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Badminton is the Ultimate Sport
Name: Ann
Date: 2003-03-06 13:35:26
Link to this Comment: 4972

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Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments: a quest
Name: Mary W. Ja
Date: 2003-03-06 23:15:41
Link to this Comment: 4981

<mytitle> href="/local/scisoc/sports03/">Women, Sport,
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ESS 200 Web Paper I
Sport in Search of the American Dream March 6, 2003
Professor Christine Shelton Mary W. Jayne

Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments: a question of equity
As long as there has been a United States of America, there have been Americans proclaiming that their nation offers all its citizens equality of opportunity. Today, that claim is usually surrounded and reinforced by expansive phrases such as: "regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, class, religious persuasion or sexual orientation". Not so long ago, however, that grand perception of equality was, in fact, circumscribed in countless ways for Americans of minority races, for those born in other lands and especially for women. In the arena of sports and physical education, certainly, the last one hundred years of U. S. history reveal one clear example after another of obstacles placed in the path of women who yearned for full opportunity to participate in sport.

Before the turn of the last century, physical exercise for women and girls was a controversial subject. It was assumed that a woman's primary role was to marry and have children – and that too much or too strenuous a level of physical activity might harm her delicate constitution or, worse yet, her capacity to bear and nurture children. Calis-thenics were introduced into the curriculums of girls' schools to promote health, vigor and physical attractiveness. Not much else was offered, however. In the early 1890's, James Naismith developed the game of basketball in Springfield, Massachusetts, and shortly afterward, women began playing the game at nearby Smith College, supervised by the influential physical education director Senda Berenson.

The new sport caught on immediately and, within the decade, "Official Women's Basketball Rules" were codified and promulgated. In fact, the new sport brought growth in physical education programs for girls and women across the country throughout the next twenty years. Following the First World War, expanding opportunities for both women and men to enjoy sport as a recreational pursuit presented themselves. New wealth offered Americans leisure time – and for many, healthy physical activity was the most pleasurable way to spend it. Women assumed an important role in the economy while men fought overseas during World War II, and they entered the post-war years more emancipated than ever. The new freedoms translated to a focus on competitive sport for women, rather than just recreational "play". With the coming of an era marked by advances in civil rights for those formerly denied them, the concepts of women's liberation spread into women's sports during the 1960's and '70's. Women's teams at high school and college and university levels played at an ever increasing level of intensity. In 1973, amid a summer of hype attaching to the match, Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs on the tennis court.

"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance," proclaimed Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Women may not have been successful at adding the Equal Rights Amendment to the U. S. Constitution during the 1970's and '80's – but Title IX was an equal rights amendment for women in sport, at least. For the remaining years of the 20th century, Title IX brought about a sea change in the way high school and college women athletes were empowered and financially supported to train and compete. Rippling out from this were wide-ranging effects on young girls and even older women, who began to perceive of themselves as potential athletes.

Amid all the positive effects of Title IX, though, were interposed some unforeseen set-backs. Before enactment of Title IX, the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, (AIAW), had been the governing body of women's college-level competitive athletics. Plenty of authoritative leadership roles had existed for women coaches and administrators within its ranks. As fully funded women's athletic programs became established on college and university campuses in the wake of Title IX, operating on a basis of full equity with men's programs, inevitable conflict arose between the women's organization and the men's National Collegiate Athletic Association, (NCAA). Ultimate-ly, some level of female participation in NCAA was seen to be the logical replacement for two competing organizations existing side by side. As this process of dissolution and merger evolved, a sharp reduction in administrative and coaching jobs for women in college athletic programs resulted.

With the advent of the 21st century has come heightened controversy regarding Title IX. The claim is made that men's college sports programs have been negatively impacted by compliance with the provisions of Title IX. While hugely expensive men's football and basketball programs are still being accommodated, more minor sports such as men's wrestling have been dropped on a number of campuses. Women counter that equity of female to male participation and funding support in college athletics has still not been reached, making it wrong to even consider relaxing the push for full compliance with the provisions of Title IX. Nevertheless, there has been a Commission formed to reexamine Title IX and make recommendations to the Secretary of Education on possible changes in approach. So far, no detailed determination has been rendered by Secretary Paige in response to recommendations from the Commission, but there has been a full-throated cry put forth in the press to rise to the defense of Title IX. It seems that in the thirty years since its enactment, the legislation has captured a place of honor in the annals of American attempts to redress unfair lack of opportunity offered to its citizens. Not only have thousands of girls and women been given new opportunities to train and compete in school and college athletics and to earn good salaries in professional sport, but the image of women-as-athletes has been vigorously promoted throughout the land. Thus, women athletes are benefited – as are those women who hope to one day become athletes and those who simply want to live healthier lives by participating in vigorous physical exercise. Title IX is a definite win-win for all women, for all Americans. As such, it must never be whittled back, not one notch.

Women & Sports: Sexualized Images
Name: Kathleen S
Date: 2003-03-07 10:40:00
Link to this Comment: 4984

Whether in film, television, magazines or ads, images of women are most often viewed as sexual beings first, rather than intellectual beings, but especially in sports women are only seen as sexual beings. Women athletes who appear as strong, muscular and competitively competent athletes and who excel in sports are viewed as not heterosexual, not uniquely talented, but Lesbian. These prevailing mindsets have plagued and prevented women athletes from aspiring in sports, but also from having the opportunity to play competitive sports on the same level as men. As long as these prejudice mindsets and the women who acquiesce to them continue, they will only perpetuate the negative effects and oppression within the lives of all women, whether athletes or not, and will only hinder the progress toward women's equality in sport and life in general.
For example, in 1923 a new athletics division was developed to provide opportunities for girls and women in sports. It wasn't until the 1950s that high schools and community outreach supported programs and clubs inspired girls and women to become involved in sports. Further, the goal for the division was to negate male domination and control. Gissendanner (1994, p. 82) states:
They believed that male coaches and administrators should be replaced by qualified women, that is, women who adhered to division principles, and that women's sports should promote good health, fair play, cooperative endeavor, mass participation in a variety of sports, and "sport for sports sake."

Clearly, it was the division's attempt to prevent any exploitation of its female athlete members. However, in the division's attempt to protect girls and women, they essentially helped to create and foster stereotypical judgments toward female athletes by writing in the division's doctrine specific guidelines prohibiting females to play sports. For example, as Gissendanner (1994, p. 82) states:
The division's platform decried such practices as the collection of gate receipts, frequent and distant travel, long schedules, large expenditures on uniforms and equipment for varsity teams, and the promotion of star performers. They feared such practices would allow or encourage female athletes to compete when injured, exhausted, or menstruating.

Furthermore, women's body images in the sports arena is dictated by those sponsors who demand the appearance of women as highly feminine and sexual simply to promote and sell more tickets and products. Whether in bikinis or shorts and sports bras, women must look the part of women because sex sells. For example, Brace-Govan (2002, p. 403) quotes Becker, 1963; Blumer, 1969; Goffman, 1959/1990: "Although hard work and self-discipline may be conveyed by images of women models, final positive judgments are based on the potential heterosexual desirability and not on objective, instrumental, or measurable abilities associated with successful athletes. "
Unfortunately, women themselves buy into the sexist logic and believe the only way to a successful sports career is by using their sexuality to sell their sponsors' products. Otherwise, female athletes are threatened with negative press and labels, such as "dykes." Therefore, when the issue of what is feminine in sport arises, a controversy also arises. As soon as women appear muscular and strong, their gender is called into question and name-calling ensues. Specifically, Brace-Govan (2002, p. 405) offers a precise assessment when she quotes Devor, 1989, pp. 47-49:
In Western contemporary society, it is crucially important to determine the sex and the intended gender of the body that is being read. If shoulders are large and broad, then it is crucial to the social interpretation whether they are part of a male or female body. Sometimes, visual gender identity cues are manipulated by the person or misread by others.

In this regard, it is clear that according to the cultural standards within society, it is imperative that women remain feminine for the sake of their femininity as well as their gender identity, all the while dictating and segregating genders.
Similarly, an issue of equality in sports reporting within the current sports arena has arisen when women sports reporters have been allowed into men's locker rooms, but men sports reporters have not been allowed in women's locker rooms. Instances such as this example provide ample opportunity for the opposition to charge foul play. As Gissendanner (1994, p. 82) states: "Furthermore, the division feared for the morality of the scantily clad sportswoman surrounded by male coaches, leering male spectators, male sponsors, and the locker-room masseuse. "
In fact, the "scantily clad" uniforms women wore, were primarily dictated by men and women who insisted that women must look and appear as women, not men. The skirt-like uniforms were not only sexualizing women to maintain their femininity, but highly impractical because the uniforms were injurious to women's safety and health when playing sports. Specifically, in the 1940s women's professional baseball teams uniforms wore mini-like skirts, which did not allow for protecting women's legs as they would round and slide onto the bases, causing horrible bruising and hip injury. Although this is a classic example from the predominantly male perspective, clearly as long as women are sexualized by men and those women who agree with their male counterparts, equality in sports reporting in locker rooms and on the playing fields will continue to be an issue.
Finally, if all of society continues to allow the perpetual stereotyping of what's feminine and what's not, women athletes will never be on the same playing field as men. The wonderful opportunity that the Women's Movement brought into focus so clearly, was that it provided women with the opportunity to have the right to choose in any aspect of our culture. Should women decide to choose to exploit their bodies sexually or become lured into the world of sexualizing their athletic talent to play sports, then they, too, perpetuate the problem; however, although female exploitation is a huge price to pay, ultimately it's their right to choose – right or wrong. More importantly, it's imperative that our culture modify its thinking about equality issues for all genders within all areas of society, including sports; thereby society will be able to play the proverbial game of life equitably and without the risk of exploitation, but rather positively affecting today's cultural ideal of women.

Reference List

Brace-Govan, J. (2002). Looking At Bodywork: Women and Three Physical Activities. Journal of Sport & Social Issues, 23, 4, 403-420.
Gissendanner, C. (1994). African-American Women And Competitive Sport, 1920-1960. In S. Birrell & C. Cole (Eds.), Women, Sport and Culture
(pp. 81-91). Champaign: Human Kinetics Publishing.

The Battle of the Sexes
Name: Stefanie K
Date: 2003-03-08 10:02:44
Link to this Comment: 4991

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As a college basketball player, I pride myself in the level of skill, competency, and commitment I have for the sport. Anyone or anything that questions my abilities is immediately perceived as a threat, an obstacle I have to prove I can overcome. Recently I was challenged to a game of one-on-one with a male friend of mine, both of us being fairly equal in talent and ability in the game of basketball. Unfortunately, he won, which immediately made me feel that I was an inferior player, like I failed in proving women could be just as good as men when it came to basketball. Looking back, I question whether my friend would have felt the same had he lost the game, which I then immediately dismissed. No, he wouldn't have, because he was seeing things from a male athlete perspective, and would have instead been impressed with how I, as a woman, was able to play with enough skill to win. This one instance sums up the struggle all women athletes have faced in the past and still battle with currently. Men, who have dominated the sports world for over a century, are what we as women athletes are constantly striving to beat, trying to show that we are just as competent as athletes. Therefore, every athletic battle of the sexes is perceived by women as a chance to prove that they are better, whereas, men see it as another opportunity to dominate.

Sport is about competition, rivalries that are supposed to bring out the best in athletes. Yet the most prevalent rivalry that exists in sport since the early 1900's is the battle between men and women, where women's sports have been on the losing side for years. Even with the passage of Title IX in 1972, calling for the elimination of discrimination based on sex, there has been little accomplished in the sphere of women's sports besides the stereotypical exploitation of women athletes. During the pre-Title IX era, women were discouraged from participating in sporting events based upon a few chauvinistic assumptions about he ideals of femininity, and the cultural roles of women. The two most ubiquitous themes arguing against women becoming involved in typical athletic events include the "medical profession's notions of the inherent weaknesses mandated by females' anatomy and physiology", and the idea that the prevailing female occupations only should include marriage, motherhood, and service since they are examples of "proper female behavior". (Costa & Guthrie, pg. 84) In contrast, during this same time period, sports were seen as an arena to test a man's brawn, spirit, self-confidence, quickness, and courage, in the absence of war and battlefields. Even after Title IX was passed, the aggressiveness of sports still echoes these earlier views that athletics are a man's rite of passage, leaving women to accept their feminine, stay-at-home roles, or be criticized for being too masculine by becoming part of this male-dominated world. (Costa & Guthrie, pg. 84)

Today the portrayal of women athletes still revolves around the ideal of femininity first and athleticism after, and this construct is perpetuated by the media, i.e. television, newspaper, magazines, etc. According to current statistics, women constitute 40% of the athletic population, yet are underrepresented in the media, receiving only 3-5% of sports coverage. This under-representation reveals the cultural anxiety there still exits with the presence of strong women, especially in the sports arena where the male ego is at stake. The male athletes that receive the most media coverage are those that excel in their individual sports and are considered sexy because of what they do in sports. On the other hand, women athletes that receive the majority of media coverage are those that appeal to the pre-existing ideal of women being heterosexual, feminine, and sexy, and therefore would look good in a bathing suit on the cover of any sports magazine, regardless of their athletic specialty. Sports are about empowerment of the individual, and due to the fragile male psyche, the only way to keep this empowering identity of women at bay is to capitalize on sexualizing them in the media, thereby diminishing their power as athletic role models. ("Playing Unfair: Images of the Female Athlete")

Women have been working to get around this need for society to sexualize them in order to legitimize their athletic prowess, and this is where the desire to prove oneself as an athlete stems. Women are consistently trying to validate themselves by comparing their abilities to those of their male counterparts, Title IX only facilitating this push to be better than the men. Even in the movies, like in "Love and Basketball", there is represented the strong female athlete, Monica, who battles between being perceived as an excellent basketball player or as a woman. In all truth, even though Title IX makes available to women the opportunities that are given to men, they are still made to choose between being a strong, empowered athlete, risking being rejected as a "normal female", or by succumbing to the stereotypical and manipulating portrayal through the use of scantily clad images of themselves. The movie "Blue Crush" enhances this dilemma by making the main character, Ann Marie, deal with the choice of being seen as Matt's new girl, or by becoming her one and only desire: the first female surfer on the cover of SURFER magazine.

This constant pursuit to prove ourselves as competent athletes comes with the territory of playing in the realm of female athletics. Yet, is this advancing women's sports as those that fought to pass Title IX in the early and mid-1900's had hoped? In my opinion, until we as women stop comparing ourselves to male athletes, we are hindering our advancement in sport. I look forward to the day when the battle of the sexes no longer exists because women can be competent and able athletes without being juxtaposed to the men.

Stereotypes In Media
Name: lily gatau
Date: 2003-03-08 22:11:58
Link to this Comment: 4997

<mytitle> Women, Sport, and Film - 2003
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If we assume that the media perpetuates stereotypes, what can be done to combat them, or has our society become numb to these stereotypes? What do the media messages say about women in society? About men in society? About race, gender and class?

Mass media became on of the main sources of popular culture in modern capitalist society. Media, however, not only entertains and offers news to people, but also transfers the stereotypes, beliefs and values of the society to reproduce the existing order of social life. Louis Althusser in his theory of ideological state apparatuses, says that schools, families, religions play the role of the ideological state apparatuses. These institutions invisibly transfer and indoctrinate the dominant hegemonic ideology of the society into the minds of people in order to be able to control people. In the modern capitalist world, I would argue, media turned to be yet another althusserian ideological apparatus that control the mind of masses. It seems like media creates the unique pieces of art: movies, documentaries, magazines, music, TV shows and others. Theodor Adorno, however, would argue that all of these products of media contain zero level of uniqueness. According to him, what we see on TV screens or in newspapers is produced only with one purpose of being sold. Therefore, what is manufactured (popular culture) by media has to reflect the life of people, it needs to be on such level that people would understand and except. This reflection, however, is created through reproduction of stereotypes, which fill the life of society and, thus, are known to everyone.

One can find multiple examples, supporting argument on indoctrinating role of media in a capitalist society, in the movies shown in Women, Sport and Film class. For instance, in all of the movies we saw how hard the main characters had to work/practice in order to achieve their own goals. Whether it was Velvet or Monica, the whole women baseball team or a young water-surfer, they all had to practice for a long period of time in order to achieve the success. I think that this corresponds very well to such an important value of the capitalist society as competition. In the modern capitalist society it is widely accepted that the way to success lays through competition and only those who work hard enough can reach the sought end. It is beneficial for the hegemonic power to make sure that all people in the society belief in such myth, so that the unequal nature of such competition could be mask behind the mass belief. It might be true that only those who work hard can achieve successful results, but what we fail to realize, that not every one in capitalist society has equal opportunities and conditions for hard work. Not everyone has chance to have a horse (National Velvet), to be in a school, which has enough money to pay for a good basketball couch (Love and Basketball), to be able to leave the families in order to play in a team (A League Of Their Own). Not everyone is lucky to meet a "prince on a black Jeep" (Blue Crush). There are many people who cannot reach what is understood as success only because of not having enough money or authority, and not because of not working hard enough.

Another stereotype that presented in all of the movies was the dependency of women upon men. Male characters always participated in helping a female-character to reach the success. Velvet needed young man who would help her to practice her horse-riding skills. Monica's love to a basketball player was an important component on her way to glory. The rejection of her love by man was one of the main moments that made her want to practice even harder. The main character of Blue Crush received an important advice from a young man she fell in love with, and, therefore, managed to win the competition. And, finally, in A League Of Their Own most of the women lived with the thoughts about their husbands who were fighting in the war. Besides, all sponsors, the manager and the couch of the female baseball team were men, and the existence of the team depended upon what the men says, rather from the athletic skills that these women manage to develop. What makes all these examples even more interesting is that one can develop a counter-argument, saying that the fact that in these movies men were helping women to achieve the success was instead a break of stereotype, which represents men as those who achieve high goals, and women as those who help to achieve these goals. If we compare the different ways, in which media depicts helping male and helping female characters, we will see that if men help with a wise advice and with their knowledge, then female helps by cooking and taking care of children. This is yet another stereotype, common to all kinds of mass media.

I am not quite sure how to combat the usage of stereotypes in media. Once we get rid of one stereotype another will take its place. I think, however, it is very important that people are able to recognize the stereotypes. Children should be taught from the schools what are the stereotypes that exist in society and how one should understand them, so that they, first of all, did not reproduce the existing stereotype, and, secondly, did not except everything what they see in movies, press or Internet for the pure truth. I believe that we need to start from elimination of believe in stereotypes within the society.

Cited Works

Adorno, Theodor and Horkheimer, Max. Enlightment as Mass Deception. Marxist Internet Archives. (March, 2003)

Althusser, Louis. Ideological State Apparatus (BP for the Bryn Mawr Course On the Margins – bibliographical information is missing).

Passing: On Women and Sport
Name: M.A.
Date: 2003-03-12 21:56:58
Link to this Comment: 5005

<mytitle> href="/local/scisoc/sports03/">Women, Sport,
and Film - 2003
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3. Assume you are a screenwriter in the year 2010. You have been commissioned to write a movie script about women's sports and current society. What is the theme? Who are the protagonists? What are the issues and how does it end?

"Perhaps no single institution in American culture has influenced our sense of masculinity more than sport... More recently, American football's hostile takeover of the more pastoral baseball as our "national pastime" has reinforced a form of masculinity which emphasizes sanctioned aggression, (para)militarism, the technology of violence, and other patriarchal values." Birrell and McDonald, 17.

The scope of success for females in athletics has been increasing over the past thirty years with the advent of Title IX. However, even with newfound possibilities for women and the potential for enforcement of equal opportunity, there are still inequalities that exist within sport as an institution. There are certain fields that have remained dominated by male athletes, sacred ground reserved for men and men only. Athletes who try to go against gender norms often have difficulty making headway in sports fields if for no other reason than lack of opportunity. Funding in collegiate sport is not equal, nor are resources, coaching opportunities, or scholarships. "Even today, despite laws designed to provide equity in sport opportunity and improvements in access for females in sport, males still have access to more sport opportunities and public resources. Men continue to control most sports organizations, and numerous inequities remain (Sage, 67)."

Even if equal opportunities are available, a major barrier for women in sport is the ideology of sport in general. Sports traditionally have been an outlet for athleticism, and what that also entails is aggression, intensity, strength, and dominance, all of which are viewed as male traits. What it simmers down to is power, and in American society, men have claimed control. However, in this generation, gender roles have been reexamined thanks to institutions such as feminism, and with less emphasis on traditional male traits, the necessity of male dominance in society is being deconstructed. Contact sports such as football are one of the remaining places to find traditional displays of masculinity intact. A field where size, strength, and brute force are used as the measuring stick for what makes a successful athlete, and thus, who has power. Since men's roles are being publicly reevaluated, they turn so sports such as football to maintain authority. "In short, masculinist responses to men's fears of social feminization resulted in men's creation of homosocial institutions in which adult men, separated from women, could engage in 'masculine' activities often centered around the development and celebration of physical strength and violence (Messner, p. 9)."

Even with the Women's Professional Football League, there are few to no opportunities for females to play football while also being involved in academics. Females on the Field is a breakthrough (hypothetical) documentary about one transgendered female-to-male athlete who was able to succeed in collegiate football and pave the way for female athletes in the future. While Jesse identified as a guy throughout the film, the fact that a person with XX chromosomes was able to triumph on the football field as something other than a field goal kicker allowed for women identified females to have a chance on the field in the future.

Year: 2010. Some anonymous school is alive with Ivy League energy and the prospect of a new season—a winning season. Jesse Bentley, a junior transfer from San Francisco, has walked on to the team and the department of athletics is buzzing with admiration for his skill and natural ability (think Rudy, but with the athletic potential of a highly recruited big ten athlete). The coaches thank their lucky stars, marveling at why he hasn't been recruited, why they haven't heard about this quarterback sensation. He is small by athletic standards. 5'10," narrow shoulders, toned but not blatantly muscular. He is a thinker, listens well, and a hard worker who is always going out there like he has something to prove. He is in the locker room and ready for practice before any of the players show up. He is usually the last to leave, wanting to get in an extra workout, or else he is rushing out the door to his other activities without even changing out of his uniform. This player is every coach's dream.

He is a mystery and does not socialize with the players. He is the talk of campus. He has a secret that he isn't telling anyone. Three years ago, prior to his freshman year of college in San Francisco he underwent top surgery to have his breasts removed. He has a narrow scar on either side of his chest where tissue once was. He has been on testosterone for the past year and has acquired a goatee. All his legal documents are now marked with "M." Aside from having XX chromosomes, he is your average guy. He has been living a transgender lifestyle since his early teens thanks to remarkably supportive parents and the relatively trans-friendly area where he lives.

In brief, Jesse's teammates become suspicious at his reluctance to socialize with the team. He is always running off. Something has to be up with this guy. Aha! He must be gay. That is why he won't shower or change with the team. Finally Jesse gets cornered and stripped by his teammates and they find out his secret, as he may look like a guy and be on testosterone but he lacks one necessary body part. As a consequence he gets kicked off the team and is harassed out of school. He appeals to the administration but gets no support. Jesse is forced to leave. The issues? 'Women aren't tough enough,' the liability of 'him' getting hurt. Title IX only requires equal distribution of resources, not coed teams. He lied. Plain and simple. Jesse is not getting back on this team regardless of his ability. He is woman as far as they are concerned. Main protagonists: sports culture, college administration, and male athletes.

The movie ends with a clip of the parents on some talk show saying that as feminists, they had always encouraged their daughter, err..., son, to be an individual, to break past shackles of the patriarchy and traditional notions of gender; to prove that essentialism isn't always the answer, females can succeed in male athletics; that exceptional female athletes are every bit as capable as males, and that they can be leaders on football teams. Hopefully everyone will learn from Jesse's story and females in the future will be able to have a chance at football as women. It is unfortunate that the only reason for Jesse's success is that people didn't know that he was female and otherwise he would have been stopped before he even go t started.

Jesse's story inspired students on campus to sign a petition to allow females to try out for the football team. Three years later in 2013 it is the start of a new season. A car pulls up and parks next to the football stadium. A freshman player heads for the women's locker room, eager to get her pads on and get to work. She is a tight end who, along with four other females, have shown up for fall preseason to try out for the team.

Works Cited

Birrell, S. and McDonald, M. (2000). Reading Sport: Critical Essays on Power and
Representation. Boston: Northeastern University Press.

Messner, M. (1998). Politics of Masculinities: Men in Movements. Thousand Oaks, CA:
Sage Publishers.

Sage, G. (1998). Power and Ideology in American Sport. University of Northern
Colorado: Human Kinetics.

Images of Athletes and the Binary Gender System
Name: Rachel Kah
Date: 2003-03-15 11:01:00
Link to this Comment: 5015

<mytitle> href="/local/scisoc/sports03/">Women, Sport,
and Film - 2003
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According to a film produced by the Discovery Channel, "Is It a Boy or a Girl?," doctors perform genital surgery on newborn infants five times every day. What does this have to do with the cultural ideal of women in sport? Quite a lot.

A newborn with ovaries and a uterus is declared a girl, while a newborn with a suitably long penis is declared a boy. Sometimes the sex organs of a newborn are not definitive. For example, a clitoris may be "too long," or a penis "too small." The Intersexual Society of North America (ISNA) ( estimates that 1 in 100 people have bodies that "differ from standard male or female," and for every 1000 babies born, 1 to 2 receive genital surgery to "normalize genital appearance." These statistics indicate that the way we think about sex/gender (as a binary system: male or female) is severely flawed.

The two-gender system is an integral part of the way our culture works. Just as intersexual genitals are considered pathological, so are people who do not fit into the universal sex/gender stereotypes. We see this played out in sports: ice skating is a sport in which women have been completely accepted. Accepted, that is, wearing skirts, sequins and lots of makeup. Sports, such as football, which rely on strength, size, aggression and pain tolerance, are still dominated by men.

Why is it that we cling to the binary gender system so desperately that doctors feel compelled to uphold it by surgically altering the genitals of children who would not suffer physical consequences from having ambiguous genitals (and who risk loss of sensitivity and emotional scarring from a surgery they were too young to refuse)? There are many possible ways to think about this question. For one, ambiguity has never been popular. We like to categorize, and we don't like it when people do not fit neatly into our categories. The concept of a gender continuum with the societally constructed concept of "standard male" (as the ISNA terms it) at one extreme and "standard female" at the other has not taken hold because categorization would become far too difficult. Also, with no clear gender categories, heterosexuality would be nonexistent. The disappearance of heterosexuality is pretty frightening for an incredibly homophobic culture.

Recently, women have been starting to play more and more sports that have been, and still are, male dominated. This may seem like great progress, but there are clear indications that the binary is holding strong. Women who play sports are in danger of transcending the binary gender system. They exhibit many of the cultural ideals of a "man": strong, fast, aggressive, etc... Their bodies are built and trained. They don't fit neatly into their gender category. However, the cultural ideals of a "woman": domestic, passive, nurturing, pretty, "feminine", straight, etc... are cleverly upheld by the images of women in sports that are presented by the media. Pictures of male athletes most often depict them playing their sport, complete with muscles, sweat, aggression, and power. Female athletes, however, are commonly found in dresses, bathing suits, or nothing at all. Often they are at home, on the beach, or even in their kitchens. These are the images that people want to see because these are the images that allow athletes to remain safely categorized as their sex/gender dictates.

Sports will continue to be influenced by stereotyped images until we accept that gender is extraordinarily complex and that two limited categories simply do not begin to encompass its infinite possibilities.

(If you are interested in gender issues, check out "Sexing the body" by Anne Fausto-Sterling. Reading that book really helped me understand why the binary gender system exists and why it is so problematic.)

Answer to Question #4
Name: Anneliese
Date: 2003-03-16 23:16:12
Link to this Comment: 5020

If we assume that the media perpetuates stereotypes, what can be done to combat them, or has our society become numb to these stereotypes? What do the media messages say about women in society? About men in society? About race, class and gender?

In some ways, our society has become numb to the stereotypes of women and minority groups. The media has saturated our society with a particular image of women that has caused us to accept that image as the norm. Over the years, women have attempted to challenge these social norms, but it has taken a lot of hard work and initiative on the part of strong female leaders to get even slight changes made. Our society continues to still have trouble fully accepting the image of a strong female athlete or role model. Even though, to some extent, I believe our society has become "set in its ways" regarding race, class and gender, I do not think that we should just give up on our fight against these stereotypes. There are still many things we can do to combat the image of women in our society.

Through many of the films we watched, we saw the many stereotypes of women in sport and strong female role models. In some of the films, the image of a strong female athlete was readily accepted but in other cases it was not. In general, it seems that if a woman is seen as strong and at all forceful in challenging society norms, her sexuality is immediately called into question, she is labeled a bitch or both. The sad issue is that not only men place these labels but other women do, as well. Some women may feel uncomfortable about fellow women trying to change stereotypes and may be jealous of these women's ability to voice their concerns, dreams and opinions so freely.

I think the only way to change the way our society views women and acts towards them is to start with ourselves. Once you are able to establish your own beliefs on the role of women in society, then it is easier to help bring about change. When we see another woman being cut down for speaking out or for just being a strong figure, we should immediately correct whoever is making the statement and not just laugh it off and go along with whatever they are saying. I believe being complacent about these things give validity to the statements being made and allows the person making the comments to believe his or her actions are all right. Also if you are to share your own personal beliefs on women's issues in our society, this may cause the person to reevaluate their own beliefs on the stereotypes of women in our society. The best way to affect change is to make sure people are not disillusioned about issues concerning women and that they have the correct information when discussing any topic.

I think that it would also help if women, who are public figures, would speak out against the way women are portrayed in the media. A majority of pictures taken of women athletes do not always portray them as the strong female role models they are, but instead highly sexualize them to attract male readers. We saw many magazine spreads of female athletes brought in by people throughout this course and very few of them (if any) had women not in a stereotypical female role (i.e. baking a pie in the kitchen) or in a provocative outfit (i.e. the female golfer in her bra and panties). Do not get me wrong, I realize in our society that sex sells and a lot of marketing schemes are based on society's stereotypes and what they believe our society wants to see. But I do think that women in the public eye could make more of an effort to combat these stereotypes.

Female athletes should stand up to magazines and other media about posing in certain provocative outfits. They should unite and stand against the image of women in the media and develop a set of standards for photo spreads. The problem is there are some female athletes, Anna Kornikova for instance, who are not particularly good athletes but have what is called in our society "sex appeal". It seems that a lot of excellent female athletes are not as well known as Kornikova, because they do not what the media in our country considers "sex appeal". But if someone like Anna Kornikova were to stand up to the image of women in the media, then the way women are portrayed in magazines and other media outlets could change greatly.

I am not saying that women athletes should not have "sex appeal", but there should be more of a balance like there is with male athletes. How many photos have there been of Wayne Gretsky in a provocative outfit or pose or Tiger Woods baking a pie in the kitchen? How many photos have there been of these two men without either wearing some kind of sports uniform or in some type of sports setting? I bet less than even ONE of the Williams sisters has been. Women athletes should be treated as equals to male athletes and not set apart as sexual images in sports magazines. They should be given the opportunity to talk seriously about their athleticism and to be taken seriously as athletes in our society. Also, it would help to increase media coverage of women's sports across the board to show the importance of encouraging athleticism in young girls.

For some reason our society still has a fear of accepting strong female role models or women who defy gender roles. Although we continue to make baby steps towards gender equality, we still have a long way to go. Our society needs to realize progress only comes with change. Women continue to become stronger leaders in our society and not just in sports. There continue to be exceptional female leaders in the fields of science, politics, business and many others. They continue to break through glass ceilings and to challenge society norms. Only when women are able to stand united against society's stereotypes will there be major changes in the way strong women are viewed and treated by others.

The Portrayal of Female Athletes in Popular Cultur
Name: Madeleine
Date: 2003-03-18 16:40:53
Link to this Comment: 5063

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Popular culture and the modern media consistently prefer to showcase only one highly specific vision of athletic women. As lauded by the media, this woman is a surreal amalgam of contradictory qualities, a construct based on the ambivalent emotions of the primarily male-dominated world of sports and sports media.
The woman athlete as advertised by the media must be young and attractive, and a dedicated competitor. (Older, or less stereotypically "attractive" female athletes tend to receive little media attention at all. And any athlete not dedicated to their sport would similarly garner no attention.) At the same time, her youthful enthusiasm must be tempered by maturity and poise, lest she be labeled a cry-baby, never mind that on the other end, talented and remarkable women are being under-advertised because companies prefer to use images of teenaged girls rather than mature women. Meanwhile, her dedication to sports must be moderated by demure and ladylike character traits, lest she be seen as cutthroat, over-aggressive, hostile, or butch. The woman athlete as preferred by modern media is effectively an attractive, highly feminized young woman with a talent for her sport.
This preference for showcasing female athletes as apparently women first, and athletes second, is clear and blatant when one considers the modern media coverage given to male and female athletes. While male athletes are almost always filmed and photographed in ways that augment their physical strengths, female athletes are most frequently filmed or photographed wearing swimsuits, in their kitchens or homes, or with their families. Male athletes are also frequently shown lounging comfortably in sports jackets or suits, advertising such merchandise as cell phones, cologne, or cars. Women athletes are most likely to be featured cooking, cleaning, or caring for their family.
In four of the films that we viewed for this seminar, these same contradictory themes were stressed. In National Velvet, the protagonist of Velvet is a sweet, brave and feisty child who practically wills her way into the greatest horse race of the world. There is no question that Velvet's grit, determination, sweetness and bravery all contribute significantly to her triumph in the film, but these traits also contributed significantly to her success as a character. She was a brave little girl, an archetypal character easy to root for.
However, the film's directors and producers also conformed to the preference of pop culture, by portraying Velvet quite clearly as a girl first, and a sportswoman second. Despite her ostensible boyishness – in the film, she masquerades successfully as a male jockey by merely cutting off her long hair and wearing the jockey's uniform – she is a patently feminine looking, and acting, young woman. Throughout the movie, her alabaster skin, sparkling blue eyes and cupid's bow lips are accented with makeup, and despite her incessant hours shown training with The Pie, she is rarely shown with even a smudge of dust besmirching her skin or clothes. Her high, breathy voice and impulsive, emotional character are used as thoroughly "girly" throughout the film, and in the final scene, Velvet faints dramatically after winning the race. One cannot dismiss the feeling that the director found it simply "too unwomanly" for Velvet to finish the race and enjoy her glory triumphantly, rather than swooning after her gender-bending transgression. And most tellingly, both Velvet and her mother, Mrs. Brown, are portrayed as tough, dedicated and independent athletes, who nonetheless will, or have, inevitably put away the mantle of success to raise a family. Throughout National Velvet there is an undertone of finality; this race will be her one headstrong moment of success in life. Afterwards, she will withdraw sensibly, meet a nice boy, and raise a family. So while Velvet Brown is a positive and admirable character, she clearly fits the preferred stereotype of young, attractive, and hyper-feminized woman athletes.
In examining Love and Basketball, A League of Their Own, and Blue Crush, one finds similar results. In Love and Basketball, Monica is also young, attractive, and dedicated. And while the movie presents her as more tomboyish than her mother and sister, it also stresses her more demure and ladylike traits, while presenting other female basketball players as hostile and rivalrous women who drink too much and sleep around. Also, she gives up playing basketball until she wins back her ex, the implication being that without her man, her world is meaningless. Monica is another example of media stereotyping: while she is a classy and admirable character, she nonetheless fits the highly limited mold preferred by popular culture.
The same is true in A League Of Their Own. The main character is also young and attractive, who also is only "playing" sports until her husband returns from the war, when she plans to quit baseball to raise a family. Interestingly, this movie acknowledges and demonstrates the limited reception of women athletes in the media, particularly in one scene in which the women are told they can't play baseball unless they wear short, skimpy skirts and blouses, completely incomparable to the more protective and efficient uniforms worn previously by the male baseball players. However, the movie still succumbs to the pop culture requirements, portraying a group of almost universally young, attractive and "ladylike" women who, for the most part, seem only to be playing baseball until the right man shows up.
Lastly, in Blue Crush, we see the most blatant example of this style of pop culture construct. Anne Marie, ostensibly the protagonist of the movie, is a girl who wants to become a famous and successful surfer. However, the movie undercuts even that aspiration by showing us only one brief scene of her training at surfing, while meanwhile deluging us with images of her standing around in a bikini. She fulfills the requirements of young and attractive, and throughout the movie seems much more anxious to settle down with her boyfriend than to surf, or do anything else. And even her dedication to surfing is called into question, as it becomes lost in a morass of her desire for "a girl to be on the cover of Surf magazine", her desire for the endorsement and advertising money that would accompany success, and her apparent desire to overcome her previous traumatic near-drowning experience. We are left with an image not of a woman athlete, but of an emotionally torn and unhappy young girl, looking for guidance from her boyfriend.
In all these movies, the pop culture preference for young, attractive and hyper-feminized female athletes is clear. Both the restrictive media and the narrow-minded popular culture are doing themselves, and the world at large, a great disfavor by overlooking the numerous talented and remarkable female athletes who simply choose not to pose in swimsuits.

High School Stars
Name: Jillian Be
Date: 2003-03-18 18:59:48
Link to this Comment: 5068

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To : Miramax Script Screening Committee
From : Jillian Best, screen-playwright

My proposal is for a film about five female high school basketball stars. The story will cover all of their lives during the 2009-2010 season at their suburban school. Part of the film will be shot as a normal film with scenes to build character development and conflicts. The focus will be on both their lives on the court and at home and school. The other part of the film will be executed in documentary style interviews with the lead characters. Their problems and issues will be highly representative of those often dealt with by women in sports.

Character list:
Katherine Jennings- a new girl on the team. Kate is tall, blonde, and gorgeous. She comes to basketball games and practice in full make-up with perfectly curled hair. She is a sophomore and a good player, but is resented by the others on the team who feel she is too prissy and too young to be a starter. Kate has a fan club of boys from all grades who come to all of her games and follow her around school. She is the reason the games are suddenly getting so much attention. The rest of the team knows this, and while they enjoy the new appreciation for their game, they are bothered that it took a bombshell on the team to get some recognition. Kate's constant stream of boyfriends sometimes affects her performance in games and practice. She is often late and distracted. The Jennings family is plagued by a schism brought on by Kate's interest in basketball. Her mother wants nothing more than for Kate to marry a nice man and be a good wife. Mr. Jennings wants Kate to be the son he never had and be a completely dedicated basketball player. In his eyes, she has no time for boys.
Sheena Ball- the leader. Sheena has been starting since she was a freshman. She had quickly gained the respect of the older players because of her incredible skill and dedication. Now a senior, Sheena is the most well-known and well-liked girl in school. She is short and short-tempered. Her ultimate rival, besides passing chemistry, is Kate. Sheena resents everything about Katherine Jennings and she makes this no secret. Being totally for the team, Sheena would ordinarily have no problem with giving her position as MVP to another equally competent teammate. She does not see Kate as a serious player and things that the only reason she gets so much attention is because of her looks. Sheena has the full support of her parents and her four equally athletic little sisters. She is also the star player of the soccer and softball teams. Sheena's constant issue is with academics. She is dyslexic and struggles to keep her eligibility.
Alicia McAllistair- an intelligent and athletic black girl. Alicia has played basketball all her life. She was on co-ed teams at the Y when she was little. She played for her church during elementary school. Upon the development of girl's basketball in middle school, she quickly joined. She loves the game but is not all about basketball. Alicia is dedicated to academics and is the president of her school's chapter of the National Honor Society. As a senior, she must make the decision between going to an athletic school on a basketball scholarship or going to an Ivy League school on an academic scholarship. While her mother is supportive of both choices, Alicia feels that either way she would be ignoring a large part of her life. Being African-American has been an advantage and disadvantage in her life of sports. Alicia is stereotyped as being good at basketball because of her race. She resents such implications because she works hard to be good at basketball and is not successful because of her genes. She is also frustrated by the constant assumptions that she will go to school on a basketball scholarship. No one ever asks her about her academic ambitions.
Renée Fielding- a teen in trouble. Renée has been with her boyfriend for about two years now. They were friends when they were little and are seen as the perfect couple. They both play basketball and attend all of each other's games. Renée has big college plans that include going to school to play basketball. She is not that much into academics but wishes to continue playing as long as she can. She secretly aspires to be in the WNBA, but fears she isn't good enough. Mid-season Renée suspects that she is pregnant. She must make the very important decision of whether or not to keep the baby. She knows that some day she wants a family, but she also does not want to give up her dreams. She struggles with the fact that being pregnant puts her out of the game for the rest of the season and she won't get a chance to be seen by the scouts. Renée, her boyfriend, her family, and her supportive teammates weigh all of the possible options in helping her make the most important decision of her life.
Bridget Edwards- the confused teen. Bridget Edwards has a secret. She is gay. She has a girlfriend. No one at Bridget's high school, not even her closest friends on the team, knows that she is a lesbian. Last year, curious about her sexuality, Bridget decided to try to meet other confused teens on the internet. She discovered several young men and women in her own neighborhood with similar problems. Bridget began to go to meetings for gay and lesbian teens. She lied to her friends and family telling them she was doing extra practice for basketball. She met a girl who goes to a nearby high school and they are now a steady couple. Every one knows about Bridget's friend, but don't understand the extent of their relationship. Every time someone innocently questions about not having a boyfriend, or teases her about being a lesbian because she is a female athlete without an obvious heterosexual relationship she feels increasing pressure to tell the truth. Bridget's girlfriend is tired of sneaking around and wishes that they could come out of the closet. Bridget faces the dilemma of losing her girlfriend or losing her family and friends.

The end of the film will be a short interview clip with each of the girls saying what they have decided to do and a montage of their last game together. Katherine Jennings will decide to quit basketball because she feels she plays for the wrong reasons. Sheena will be accepted into college on a basketball scholarship provided she maintains a tutor for all subjects. She never learns to like Katherine, but tolerates her and, in her own way, helps Kate make the decision to quit. Alicia decides to go to Duke University where she will try to balance the work load of rigorous academic courses and heavy practice hours. Renée comes to the conclusion that basketball will have to come second to her dedication as a mother. She and her boyfriend are still together but have no plans to marry. Bridget comes out to her family and friends with good and bad consequences. She is thrown out of her house by her father. She maintains a good relationship with her mother and will be living with her best friend, Renée, before going to college at Bryn Mawr.

Battling Stereotypes
Name: Elizabeth
Date: 2003-03-18 19:23:55
Link to this Comment: 5069

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The media holds great power in how a person or group of people is portrayed. This holds true for female athletes. Athletes, in general, have a mythic quality to them. However, many times female and male athletes are portrayed differently. Men are often shown on the front of magazines with athletic equipment next to them or are in uniform. Women tend to be in a domestic setting, in a less powerful setting, or in a more glamorous competitive stance, which makes them not appear as competitive. These stereotypes have existed since women have entered athletics and, although great strides have been made, they still persist.

Stereotypes are something that people tend to get used to. We, as a society, have an image of what a librarian looks like or how a lawyer behaves. None of the stereotypes hold true for all members of the profession, but they are still used as a reference in thinking about people engaged in that profession. Female athletes have these too. They are too weak to compete and if they can compete they are not feminine. The idea of female athletes all being lesbians is also common. These stereotypes have lessoned due to with the great strides women have made in athletics, however they are still prevalent. However, the media has not come as far as the personal strides of athletes. Women have been able to show a competitive spirit equal to men, but the media still does not treat women as fierce athletes. Those women who are pictured in athletics are not usually shown in an as aggressive pose as men. In the movie "Blue Crush," the main character is shown, at the end of the movie, on the front of a surfing magazine. Even in this image, is was not a typical photo in how she is portrayed. She is celebrating a good run. This is a great image to sell magazines. However, is this how men are portrayed? Many are on the front cover of magazines. The difference is that usually the men are showed in the process of competition, not celebrating. Or if they are celebrating, it is in an athletic sense. Not the after party.

These stereotypes are keeping women from attaining a status in athletics that views them as complete competitors. Women are still viewed as fragile in various realms of athletics. In many ways, conditions are still similar between the days of "National Velvet" and today. The difference lies in that women's equivalents in races have been established. I sincerely doubt that a woman would be allowed in a man's event today even though this is decades after the story of "National Velvet" took place. This constraint is also shown in "A leagues of Their Own" where the media and fans wanted to see women in skirts, not in a typical baseball uniform. These women got bruised even more severely than the men since they were sliding, just like men, but without pants, which would protect their legs.

The media holds great power. It is where we get our news from as well as our perceptions of reality. Unless someone has experienced an event first-hand he or she must trust the media to tell them about what is happening. Therefore, it is dangerous for the message to be that women can compete in athletics, but they must maintain their femininity, in a traditional sense. In addition, they cannot look tired or sweaty after competing for the camera. Their job is to compete and then clean themselves up for the camera.

Many people have begun to not see these as stereotypes, but simply as another way of seeing an athlete. Seeing an athlete is a setting where the person is not competing is fine, and perhaps even very good since it gives a typical view of the person. A problem exists when this portrayal is skewed. Not all women cook. Nor would they all be found lounging around their house. There are times when women are shown in uniform or competing, but is it often enough to replace the current stereotype? Personally, I do not feel it is. The phrase "You throw like a girl" is still used. This implicitly means that women cannot throw well. Women can throw well, but this is not a strongly enough engraved idea in people's minds to eliminate the phrase saying girls cannot throw as well as boys. Women are still seen as less in the athletic field.

Perhaps, people do not believe that women cannot compete athletically, but until the media portrays women constantly as strong and athletic, there will still be strong stereotypes. It appears that people have begun to form their own opinions about what women can do, but it still seems that the old stereotypes are at work. For young girls looking for role models, it is important that women get equal coverage to men on television as well as in the newspapers. A person can watch Sports Center on ESPN for several nights in a row and hear little to nothing about women's competitions while the men's leagues get great coverage. Men's leagues are more mainstream, but this is not an excuse for less coverage of women's competitions. It is a reason to keep fighting to get women's leagues more mainstream and to get them more coverage.

Media and Gender Stereotyping
Name: Marla McCo
Date: 2003-03-18 19:35:20
Link to this Comment: 5070

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As media becomes an ever more powerful force in shaping the world's perception of itself, an individual's struggle to maintain a unique identity and self-understanding apart from media influence becomes increasingly difficult. Damaging to the idea of the self are the racial, gendered, and class-based stereotypes (always artificial and frequently physically, fiscally, and emotionally unattainable), which are broadly perpetuated and, because of their persistence, are apparently not broadly questioned. The prevalence and power of gender (especially female) stereotypes in the media are addressed in this paper.

Heightened public awareness of both the existence of and potential damage caused by these stereotypes is essential if they are to be eliminated. Frequently, though, they are difficult to combat and even to identify because of the ways in which they are presented. Overwhelming amounts of time and energy are devoted to uplifting a small, specially selected portion of the population as models of physical perfection. These individuals are, predominantly, television and movie celebrities, fashion models, and sports figures. The glamorous ways in which these occupations are portrayed by the media are seemingly impossible to separate from the physical appearance of the people who hold them. The glamour that surrounds the media presentation of the lives and careers of these individuals extends, not surprisingly, to the clothes that they wear and the way that they look. In fact, so much attention is given to celebrity appearances that entire television programs are devoted to little else but visual exploitation of celebrity clothing and their tangible products of their latest fad workouts.

The media presentation of the celebrity body has a single unifying thread, regardless of the specific job title of a given celebrity. Celebrity bodies are desired, both subjectively and objectively. The media, without question, shapes this public response. It can be argued (and has been, on many occasions) that, because the media portrays celebrities' bodies as attractive, desirable, and "good," they become national symbols of these characteristics. Conversely, bodies that do not meet this lofty goal frequently are, consciously or unconsciously, regarded as "bad" or ugly. Consider the most recent (and extremely popular) advertising tack used by Subway, the national fast food sandwich chain. "Jared," the protagonist of the recent slew of television commercials, allegedly lost hundreds of pounds while on a diet consisting primarily of the chain's fare. Jared's "before" pictures show him considerably larger than his current size, but they also show him alone, with no friends or family. In stark contrast, however, his "after" action shots consistently show him not only thinner, but also constantly in the presence of a beautiful woman, presumably his significant other. The advertising message is clear: fat=bad, ugly, unhappy and alone, thin=happy and with attractive partner. Through these commercials, Jared has assumed celebrity status, solely on the basis that his body has changed to approximate more closely the current standard of attractiveness.

Sadly, though, there is a severe disconnect between the male and female body types lauded in the media and those of the public at large. A shockingly small minority of the population has the genetic dispensation to match with what the media purports to be attractive. For women, "desirable" physical characteristics (as they are portrayed in the media) include being thin, long-legged, slim-hipped, and large-breasted. The media-portrayed "desirable" physical characteristics for men include being muscular and possessing a full head of hair. Some characteristics are portrayed as desirable in both sexes, such as being tall, fit, athletic, young, and light-skinned.
In the gap between what is implicitly beautiful in the eyes of the media and the physical reality of the popular majority flourishes a market of "self-improvement" products and services, ranging from hair dye and makeup to tanning salons, dieting, and plastic surgery. It seems as though nearly everyone, at some point in his or her life attempts to alter him- or herself in a physical way, in order to conform more closely to the marketed "norm" of attractiveness and desirability. Television, magazines, and newspapers are filled with advertisements promoting self-loathing, while offering "miracle," body-altering "cures." The body that does not conform to a sexy, sleek stereotype becomes a thing to be hated, improved upon, and generally tortured into submission.

A portion of the damage caused by such a mentality is quantifiable, though observation of the huge profits accumulated yearly by various diet programs and plastic surgeons. The harm of this presentation of the human body can also be seen in our current societal epidemic of disordered eating, including anorexia, bulimia, over-exercising, excessive dieting, and over-anxiety over food. While the population subset living with and recovering from disordered eating is still predominately composed of women, the number of men with disordered and dangerous eating habits is on the rise.
In addition to physical damage, intangible psychological harm results from body image problems to which the media contributes daily. When men and women are faced with the implication that their bodies, if they fail to conform to an impossibly stringent set of standards, are unattractive, unhealthy, and unlovable, they begin to lose confidence in themselves. The perception that a single, narrow range of body types is acceptable and healthy for men and women is not only in error, but contributes to widespread social discontent. Instead of celebrating the diversity and beauty of the human form, the media stifles our desire to feel comfortable with ourselves in an attempt to fool us into supporting a billion dollar self improvement market, from which the media garners tremendous financial benefits.

In addition to (and perhaps more devastating than) the physical and emotional damage caused by the current media-driven obsession with achieving an arbitrary physical "perfection," our society faces losing serious social perspective. As it is currently used in the media, the body is stripped of its uniqueness and forced into frustratingly narrow constraints: good/bad and attractive/unattractive. Little or no public attention is given to the countless other factors around which a person's identity is structured: kindness, generosity, honesty, friendliness, work ethics, personal motivation, intelligence, and spirituality. By focusing too intensely on the physical, our society risks losing sight of the fuller sense of what people are, and what makes us truly beautiful.

Why its OK to be Feminine
Name: Valerie So
Date: 2003-03-18 23:35:14
Link to this Comment: 5076

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Through the readings, films, and discussions, we have looked at the image of women in sport. Discuss the images of women in sport and how they are affected by today's cultural ideal of women.

Today, women can be many more things than they could have ever dreamed of in the past. Thanks to many levels of sexual revolution, women have evolved from the lesser half of men, to the equals of men, to valuable in their own right. The sexual revolution in the 1970's called for the absolute equality of women when compared to men. It called for a degendering of humans, and in many cases, called for women to raise to the levels of men by themselves evoking the qualities that had previously been reserved as masculine. Yet women of today have changed that into a new breed of feminism. Now, in our world, it is valued to be a woman and to be strong. A woman is no longer as narrowly defined as she has been in the past. We are not the same as men, but valued equally for our differences. It is the value of woman as a separate entity from men that enables us to carry both sex appeal and strength at the same time. We are no longer bound by the ideas that 1970's feminism provided us, that in order to be equals of men, we must adopt their characteristics, and not embrace our natural femininity.
Today's women's sports figures are very often seen in bikinis, or wearing nothing at all. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. Women should embrace their bodies. Is it wrong for a woman to be strong and athletic and have sex appeal at the same time? What message are we sending to girls if we constantly demean feminine looking athletes? Are we saying that we must abandon all that makes us feminine in order to compete in sports? Must we become masculine in order to rise to the challenge of being an athlete? It is a far greater accomplishment to be athletic, or powerful in any circumstance, as a woman, rather than a woman trying to act the way she thinks a man would act in that position.
Woman as a whole needs to be as equally valued as a man. This will not occur if they are constantly trying to be men. If an individual female wants to invoke respect by degendering herself, it is a blow to womankind and a bolstering to patriarchic society. If a woman wants respect, she should earn it as a woman, not as a woman trying to be a man. This may get her the personal recognition she seeks, but it does not reinforce the positive image of "wearing a skirt and gettin' the job done". Women as a whole are disrespected every time a woman forgoes her femininity for powerful gains. Sure it may be harder to get respect in today's society if you wear pink nail polish and kitten heels, but think of the larger satisfaction involved for not just you, but woman kind when you win that court case, or perform that difficult operation despite your unmasculine characteristics. Images such as these are not only personal victories for the individual, but it advances the image of women and femininity to a higher level of respect exactly as it is, not just under the pretence of masculinity.
Many argue that women athlete's success comes from their ability to "be like one of the guys". But why must a woman be one of the guys to be athletic? In today's world, women athletes who are criticized for appearing in bikinis or dressed up in magazines actually push the standard higher for women. They make it accessible for the prom queen to be the star pitcher for the softball team, or for the only girl on the football team to still date the cutest guy in school. They make being a strong woman respectable, because they can do what they do, and not pretend it had nothing to do with the fact that they are a woman. They make gender an issue, and they are all the better for it. Gender should be an issue. Women should be allowed to accomplish all the goals and feats that men can accomplish, yet they should never have to be forced to compromise the fact that they are woman in order to accomplish it. It is in fact harmful to other women if they do deny their gender in pursuit of their goals. Women athletes should embrace their bodies, and serve as an example for what all women can accomplish with their own strength and ambition. By showing their exemplary physical conditions in Sports Illustrated, they are reminding us of the sheer power we possess within us, and our ability to equal the strength of men, but as women.
Women's athletics are headed in a positive direction. Women superstars of today can prove to little girls that they can be who they are, and still be respected for what they can accomplish being women. The more that femininity can be regarded as a positive attribute in society, the better it is for the advancement and equality of women. If this requires women athletes to gender themselves and fully represent the women that they are, than we should not chastise them for placing femininity in a place that it is not always seen. The more society becomes accustomed to feminine, real women as strong, independent and equal to men in their own right, the more the term "woman" will be respected and valued, the better it is for all of us.

Image of Women in Sport in America
Name: Erika Fard
Date: 2003-03-18 23:43:54
Link to this Comment: 5077

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In the United States, women sports figures tend to be portrayed in the media as feminine first and then as sports players. Since sports were traditionally a man's field, a place where men were celebrated for showing off their strength and skill, women are a threat to male dominance. When women began to play sports seriously, they had to overcome many prejudices, not the least of which was that men did not want to share the spotlight. Women also had to prove that they were physically capable of intense exertion without adverse reaction, that they could become skilled in sport, and that playing sports was not an indication of homosexuality. Women sports and athletes still are described with the prefix "women" with its negative connotation while men do not. Why else do we use WNBA but not MNBA, woman golfer but not male golfer, if not to set women apart, to say look at this anomaly? Even today, women not only have to excel in their sport, they have to be better than the men to gain a fraction of the recognition and praise showered upon our male sports figures.

In order to combat the stereotype that women in sport have lost their femininity, women often allow themselves to be portrayed in overly feminine ways. Instead of being celebrated for their excellence in their sport, their toned bodies are flaunted. Women in sport are, more often than not, depicted in sexualized poses because it objectifies them. Women who become objects do not threaten male society the way competent sports women do. In fact, this practice is so common that it is hard to find a recognizable female sports figure who has not had her picture taken in an overtly sexualized manner. Often the picture is of the woman naked except for strategically placed soccer balls or other sports equipment. It can be hard to tell if the woman is a sports figure or a model hired to promote a sports company's latest product. Rarely do women have their pictures taken in their uniforms, unless that consists of skimpy bathing suits. When these pictures are taken, most often they are with the woman's family to show that she is a woman, first and foremost. Rarest of all are pictures of sports women actually playing their sport: working hard, getting sweaty, and being competitive. These are not "feminine" images, so they do not appear in major publication such as newspapers and Sports Illustrated very often.

Since Title IX came into effect, women have made great strides in many areas that were formerly dominated by, if not exclusively the territory of, men. The greater American society, however, seems to hold tight to the image of women maintaining their feminine side. Our society still worships beauty, style, and glamour over brains and excellence in women. Therefore it is not surprising that the female athletes that receive the most media attention are the ones who are photogenic and the ones willing to pose nearly naked for sports magazines. A classic example is Anna Kournikova, the media darling of tennis. The attention she receives revolves around her beauty, rather than her skill at tennis, since she has never won a major tennis award. If recognition and media attention were the sole product of skill, Kournikova would not be the international star that she is today.

On television, and to a lesser extent, the sports coverage in newspapers, women's sports are rarely mentioned. Those that do receive attention are almost always the sports, such as figure skating and gymnastics, where women are rewarded for their grace as well as their athletic talent. Established national leagues of soccer and basketball are broadcasted on ESPN2, if at all. It was only when the United States Olympic teams were in the final matches deciding medals, that the games were finally given airtime and coverage in newspapers. Sports channels may argue that not enough people watch women's sports on television to warrant coverage, but how will these sports gain popularity if they are never shown to the larger public? If we tell young girls that they are just as important as men, then we need to demand that women's sport be given equal coverage time.

In the movies that we watched in class, the female characters went out of their way to prove their femininity to the audience. In National Velvet, Velvet is told that after the race, she must put away her dreams of being a famous jockey, and focus her attention on feminine pursuits. The final scenes show Velvet in a dress, content to stay home. In Love and Basketball, Monica goes on to play in the WNBA, but first she says that basketball holds no meaning for her without her guy. Again, a strong female character is sacrificed for the cultural ideal that women are still need men to succeed. In a more overt display, the women in A League of Their Own must attend classes to train them for their eventual roles as housewives. They are taught posture, proper manners, and ways to maintain and enhance their beauty. Furthermore, the women are forced to play in short, impractical skirts. The surfers in Blue Crush also conformed to society's ideal. The main character contemplates given up surfing to be the wife of a football player she has only just met. Even though it would be highly impractical for surfing, all the girls wear skimpy bikinis. Over and over again, the media shows images of women in sport as sex objects or domesticated ladies. Every one of the leads in these movies depends upon a male character or sacrifices a piece of herself for the approval of a male lead.

Until society begins to change its values and its expectations for female athletes, little will be done to alter the situation. The change, if and when it occurs, will be a gradual process over many years. If the young athletes of today are rewarded for the talent in their sport not for their bodies or their femininity, perhaps their generation will begin the cultural shift toward leveling the playing field for all athletes. Athletes should refuse to have their pictures taken in skimpy clothing and overly sexualized poses. If the media attention can be shifted to women in the midst of playing their sport, one step in the right direction will be achieved.

Testing the Waters
Name: Rianna Oue
Date: 2003-03-19 01:37:30
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Begin at the beginning... (Prologue): The film takes place in the current day, year 2010, in the typical New England town of Nordson. The town's local high school has a strong focus on sports; indeed, there is a sports team for every season. Contrary to what one might think, for every boy's team there is a girl's. The teenagers of both sexes are encouraged to participate in athletic events. High school life and activities proceed as normal in the moderately conservative area. That is, until Andrea Boisvert moved with her family to Nordson in the middle of her freshman year.

Andrea had been generally well liked in her school back home in Connecticut. She is just an average person: not too pretty, not too plain, a B+ student. Andrea had been a member of her school's yearbook staff and the swim team. When she moves to Nordson she is delighted to find that her new high school had both activities. She settles in quickly to the routine of class, practice, and meetings. She makes friends and life proceeded as usual. But Andrea has a secret. She is gay.

Cut to junior year: Andrea has formed strong friendships with both Kay and Julie, next-door neighbors who are also key members of the swim team. By this time, they have both noticed that Andrea does not talk about which boys she has a crush on, does not go out on dates, and on the whole seems ambivalent about the male sex. So when Andrea feels that she knows them well enough to trust them with her secret, their thoughts are confirmed. Neither Julie nor Kay is upset by this news in any way—Andrea is a dear friend. However, the conversation occurs in Julie's house, and her mother Mae overhears. Julie's mother is horrified. She is an extremely narrow-minded woman, and homosexuality in her mind is a sin. She cannot bear the thought of her daughter changing in the same locker room as a lesbian or swimming in the same water. Mae forbids Julie to consort with Andrea in any way, and announces her intention to go to the headmaster of the school to demand that Andrea be removed from the team.

Julie, being a faithful friend, immediately tells Andrea and Kay what her mother intends to do. The trio is unsure of any course of action that they can take to prevent this. True to her word, Mae sets up an appointment with the headmaster. However, before she does, she spreads the news to other parents she knows so that the headmaster will face extreme social pressure as opposed to just her one voice. As rumor is wont to do, it is only a few days before the entire high school community is aware of Andrea's secret. While Andrea does suffer the repercussions of Mae's purposeful and hateful indiscretion from some of her fellow students, more are on the side of tolerance and acceptance. The day before Mae and those who feel the same as she are to meet with the headmaster, Andrea has a talk with her coach. Her coach tells Andrea that the vast majority of the swim team supports her and hopes that no unfair decision will be made. This is a great comfort to Andrea, who has been fearful that her teammates wanted her to be removed.

Mae and her compatriots meet with the headmaster. They put forth their demand—that Andrea be removed from the swim team because of the unhealthy influence she has on their daughters. They mention the influence they have over the school as tuition paying parents, taxpayers, and socially important people. They seem confidant that the headmaster is old-school and will see the logic and side with them. However, they are in for a shock. The headmaster informs them that each and every student has the right to equal opportunity in class and in extra curricular activities. He goes on to state that it is clearly against school and state policy to discriminate against persons based on their sexual orientation. He tells the parents that Andrea's sexuality is not related to the school activities in which she participates. He further goes on to say that he will not be bullied or financially threatened into a decision that is unjust and that tolerance and acceptance of diversity are goals toward which that institution strives.

...and when you get to the end, stop (Epilogue): Since Mae was not successful in removing Andrea from the swim team, she does the next best thing. She withdraws her permission for Julie to swim and compete, and Julie, being a minor and still in need of parental consent, is forced to drop the team. One other girl also drops the team, but the rest of the members feel that Andrea's sexual orientation is simply not an issue. They welcome her at practice and the morale of the team is strong.

When the state swim championships come around soon afterwards, they are unified and work well individually and as a team. However, the team still suffers from losing Julie so near to the end of the season. Even though they try their hardest, the team loses the championship. Julie was not even permitted by her parents to go and cheer for her school. The movie closes with Andrea and Kay going back to Kay's house after the final meet and the pair is approached by Julie, who has sneaked out of her house to join them and discover the outcome of the meet.

Final Paper
Name: Katherine
Date: 2003-03-19 09:22:22
Link to this Comment: 5080

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Women in athletics have often been stereotyped and categorized into specific roles, and the images that are presented of women often reflect the cultural ideals that have been perpetuated throughout the course of women's participation in sports. While the images have changed over the years—and there is a growing acceptance of women athletes as well as a progression of thought on this issue—there still remains the need for some to justify the presence of women in sports. Throughout our discussions in class, as well as the issues presented in the various films we watched, many different images of women and the evaluation of those images were presented.
Many of our discussions focused on the issue of gender identity. Often those who are uncomfortable with the presence of women in athletics are uncomfortable with the supposed rejection of femininity. While it is entirely possible for femininity to encompass athleticism, society has not always been as supportive of that viewpoint as it is today. In earlier days, women were seen as in some way trying to behave like men, or displaying masculine characteristics, rather than as celebrating the natural capabilities of their body. Femininity and athleticism were viewed as incompatible, and one could not be considered feminine if she were athletic.
A particular example of this is the athlete Babe Didrikson, who excelled at every sport she participated in, but had to face rumors that she was in fact a male. A marriage and longer hair helped make her seem more feminine in the public eye. Many female athletes who were successful in what they did were often questioned on their femininity. Excuses were made to justify reasons as to why women should not be allowed to participate in sports, many circling back to the biological differences between men and women. Sports were viewed as too strenuous for women, and even proposed to be damaging to a woman's childbearing capability. Women were discouraged from playing, and those who did choose to participate were faced with many obstacles that still exist today.
Women in sports have often been ignored, their achievements seen as less important or not significant. The most shocking statistic cited in one of the documentaries that we watched was that while women's participation in sports has increased so much over the years, their coverage by the media has not. The striking difference between men and women's sports can be seen in Love and Basketball. While Quincy played to sold-out crowds, was adored by fans and covered on the news, Monica was relegated to play in smaller stadiums with barely any fans. Her achievements were downplayed and she even had to leave the country in order to pursue her dream of playing professional basketball. By not appreciating the athletic talent of women, the cultural ideal that values men's athleticism over that of women's is displayed in the film, as well as in reality.
Even in the advent of the WNBA, there are still huge discrepancies between society's viewing of men and women's sports. While advances in the perception of women's athletics have been made, women still continue to be stereotyped if they do not fit into the cultural idea of what a woman is. Often talented women athletes face questions about their sexuality, and in several of the films we watched, the films went out of their way to demonstrate the heterosexuality of the women. Blue Crush, in particular was a film in which the character of the boyfriend added essentially nothing to an already bare plot, but was used to juxtapose the athleticism of the female lead.
Sexuality in particular has continued to be a major issue in women's athletics. If they are not questioned as to their sexual orientation, female athletes are seen as playing into the cultural ideal of women as sexual objects if the choose to pose provocatively for magazines. It is a double-edged sword in a way—if you are seen as too masculine, then you are seen as being gay; if you choose to pose for magazines, then you are seen as feeding into the sexual exploitation of women. Either way, questions are asked and justifications made for women that you do not see being asked or made for their male counterparts.
The images that are presented of women in athletics have changed over the years, and a growing acceptance and embracement of women's role in sports has been somewhat attained. It is now no longer impossible to celebrate being both a woman and an athlete. However, there still exists a huge difference in the perception of men and women's sports and athletes, and while things have progressed substantially over the years, there still is a lot of work to be done before women's athletics are taken as validly and importantly as men's. As society changes, so will the cultural idea of women, as well as the images that are presented of them.

Images of Women in Sport
Name: Melissa Te
Date: 2003-03-19 09:32:53
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Melissa Teicher
Women, Sport and Film

1. Through the readings, films and discussions, we have looked at the image of women in sport. Discuss the images of women in sport and how they are affected by today's cultural ideal of women.

In the beginning of Austin Powers: Goldmember, the second sequel to the original Austin Powers: International Spy, Gwenyth Paltrow plays the part of "Dixie Normous," the tall, blond, sexy sidekick to Austin Powers. Now the name should say it all, but oh, there is more; her motto is, "I may be a small time FBI agent slash single mother, but I'm still tough and sexy." Now an FBI agent may not exactly be an "athlete," per say. But the idea, clearly, is that it would be out of the ordinary for a woman to be an FBI agent; therefore, Dixie Normous must clarify that she is also a single mother and, of course, that she is still "tough and sexy." Portrayals of women, like this one, occur all over the media, some attacking women athletes and some supporting women athletes.

For instance, take a look at the magazine, The Sports Illustrated. The articles about the male athletes include pictures of them in action. They are dirty, sweaty and working hard. They are in their uniforms, with their teams, on their fields. However, recently there was an article about a female golfer. The pictures included with the article did not portray her on her field, in her element. She was not dirty, sweaty or working hard at all. But instead, she was in her underwear, with a golf club in her hand. This sort of portrayal of a well-known female athlete is much more attacking, than supporting, female athletics.

On the other hand, I noticed a TV commercial the other day. It was for State Farm Insurance. I missed the beginning, but I saw just the right part. The motto for this commercial was, "We support women athletes because little girls have big dreams too." This kind of publicity is what female athletes need. This idea will give female athletes more chances to succeed in what they do.

Today's cultural ideal of women is not very far from the ideal a century ago, or ten century's ago for that matter. A woman is supposed to be a beautiful thing, an eloquent thing, a delicate thing. A woman is supposed to put on makeup and wear her hair nice. A woman should not work hard, but should instead take care of the house and the children. So an athletic woman contradicts the ideal. However, on the other hand, a woman should also have a beautiful body, and the so-called "beautiful body" in today's age is the athletic body. So really, the ideal is a contradiction to itself.

In A League of Their Own, the female baseballs players make a movie at the start of the league. Each player is shown in their gear, doing their thing on the field. But after that brief picture, each player is also shown doing some kind of "feminine" act, like posing for a beauty contest or pouring tea. It is as if a female athlete is just too unsettling; they must show that they are just as feminine as any other woman and just as good a wife as any other wife.

In Blue Crush, the leading female character is absolutely beautiful. She has an amazing body and she is very feminine. At the beginning of the movie, the main character is training for the big surfing competition. She wakes up hours before dawn to run on the beach and such. But this is the only portrayal of her training throughout the entire movie. In the rest of the movie, she is either in a sexy, revealing dress, or she is lying naked, barely covered by white linens on a bed in a fancy hotel suite. And even with her lack of practice in the movie, she manages to score a perfect score on her surfing in the competition. But then again, you must expect that she will do well; of course the beautiful, astonishing lead female will win and take all.

Of course, on the other hand once again, many female athletes are role models. Women's basketball is on television; granted it may not be on as much as men's basketball, but it is still on the television. Female tennis, female soccer, female gymnastics are all on TV. Of course a century ago, none of these were on TV. Little by little, the female athlete is being more recognized and more respected. The ideal of women is shifting to the athletic girl. Little girls are encouraged to take up sports and physical fitness. And as State Farm Insurance says, "We support women athletes because little girls have big dreams too."

Why is Title IX a Social Justice Issue?
Name: Monika Le
Date: 2003-03-19 10:35:22
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Why is Title IX a social justice issue? What effect does it have on women's lives who are not athletes?

Imagine this: Katie, a young student who is passionate about science, has dreams of becoming a doctor. She works hard all throughout middle school and high school, receiving top grades in all of her classes, and spends time out of school to educate herself about the medical field. Katie has volunteered in hospitals, research labs, medical clinics, and nursing centers so that she can explore the many different fields of medicine. She also spends a lot of time trying to connect with doctors and learn about what they do. She shows maturity and ambition more advanced than her years. Her future may end up following a number of paths, but here are two paths that are easily plausible.

Katie will go to college, but it is not one of her first choice schools because this particular top-tier university does not accept a large number of women to its entering freshmen class. Those women who are admitted are very intelligent, and also have the financial means to attend college. Unfortunately, Katie's family does not have the money to pay for full tuition, and although Katie would qualify for financial aid, she would not necessarily receive much financial assistance, if any at all because boys will be granted a majority of the funds. Similarly, Katie has difficulty receiving any scholarships or grants, despite the fact that she graduated top of her class.

Thus, Katie will attend the local college. She will major in a science and follow the pre-destined pre-med route. From here, another two paths can possibly emerge: this college does not have a very strong science program, and she lacks support from her professors, and the unqualified teaching assistants who teach her courses. Disillusioned, Katie switches her major and her dreams of becoming a doctor have disappeared. Another path may be that she makes the most of her situation and barrels through her science courses. She spends countless hours late at night in the lab and in the library. Yet, she is one of few women in her classes. She receives very little support from her professors and the science department. Her peers, mostly men, discourage her and dominate the classes in a number of ways. She may or may not complete college with the original intent of pursuing a career as a doctor.

Assuming that she does graduate from the local college with a science degree, there is no guarantee that she will even be admitted into medical school. At this level of education, the presence of women is scarce. Where before there were five other women at the local college in her advanced science courses, now there was only one woman for every 18 men who were applying to medical school. Again, the medical school's admissions committee is even more biased than at the undergraduate university level. There is even less financial aid for women than before. Scholarships for women attending medical school hardly even existed. Where before, Katie had a small chance to go to college and graduate as a pre-med student, now she little or no chance to gain admittance into medical school, much less graduate.

This was pre-1972, before Title IX was passed.

Many people think of Title IX as a regulation allowing women to participate in sports. Title IX allowed for women to participate in interscholastic and intercollegiate sports, and now evident as a result of Title IX is the professional women's basketball league. When Title IX became law, the playing fields were leveled for both men and women athletes. Women were now eligible for athletic scholarships. In addition, women were participating in sports originally viewed as masculine or male dominated events.

However, the reaches of Title IX surpassed the bounds of athletics. It also served to addressed the issue of gender inequity in the field of education. Gender inequity of any form is an issue of social injustice. Gender inequity in the form of education is especially an injustice, as that serves as a means of oppression. By not giving women the same allowances as men, we saw a high drop out rate, less women in the math and sciences, and less women pursuing higher degrees.

As of 1997, 25 years after the passage of Title IX, high school drop out rates among teenage girls have dropped drastically. Teenage mothers are allowed to graduate. Women made up the majority of students in America's colleges and universities. In addition they also made up the majority of those receiving master's degrees. Women are also entering business and law schools in record numbers. In fact, the United States is the world leader for the percentage of women attending college and receiving advanced degrees.

As a result of the access to higher education, women have also been given the opportunity to explore nontraditional professions. In 1993-94 women made up 58 percent of postsecondary vocational education students.

It has been 30 years since the passage of Title IX. Much progress has been made. While we celebrate the successes of this law, we also realize that there is still a lot that can be done to close the gender inequity gap. However, we recognize that this law did a great deal to begin to combat this form of social injustice.

All facts referenced from:
Riley, Richard W. "Title IX: 25 Years of Progress." U.S. Department of Education. June 1997. (accessed March 15, 2003).

Image of Women Over Time
Name: Jaclyn Pil
Date: 2003-03-19 10:45:20
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It's hard for women to break into the world of sport, a perpetually male-dominated field. We have looked at the trials of women as they attempt to break through stereotypes and other, more concrete barriers against their participation in athletics. Through it all, the image of the athletic woman has been at the forefront of the discussion. And it is through the lens of this image over time, evidenced by the movies discussed in this class, that the most obvious struggles of women can best be witnessed.

The images of women and sport over time periods both historic and contemporary present differentiated perspectives of those women. But under these surface differences lies the distinct truth that all barriers to women in sport exist because of sex and sexuality. Historically, information was put out to the public that athletic activity would cause health problems for women. In a more contemporary light, advertisements and articles about female athletes usually present the women as sex objects, as if a woman's physical prowess can only be expressed when she poses nude. Female athletes are often challenged with questions of their sexuality, as if being athletic is a masculine trait. There have even been acts of violence in order to prevent women from entering the male structure. Take the Boston Marathon, where the director attempted to physically assault the first female contestant, while she was running the race. The films that we watched all express different versions of a woman's path to athletic success. A comparative study of images in the movies can help us determine the differences in societal acceptance of women in the past and the present, as well as the underlying similarities, the barriers that still remain for women to overcome.

National Velvet, set in the 1930s, presents a traditional set of values for Velvet Brown and her sisters. Cultural ideals of women then were to be pretty and to think about boys, as is evidenced by Velvet's eldest sister, played by Angela Lansbury. Velvet is a good daughter, as she reflects this image publicly, though she not-so-secretly dreams about horses instead of boys. The true blind values of appearance in this time period are evidenced when Velvet cuts her hair in order to compete. Not one person suspects that she is a girl, despite her obvious frailty, because she no longer has beautiful locks of hair.

Then, in A League of Their Own, feminine values are again emphasized. Female baseball players are required to wear short skirts in order to attract more viewers to games. The league even puts out a movie of the players sliding into home base and then pouring a cup of tea. All the female players are expected to leave their teams and the league when the war is over and then men return. Dotty follows through with this, leaving the game when her husband returns, turning in her uniform and bat for an apron and a tea cozy. Cat, her little sister, sticks with the game that she adores until the very end, but never achieves as popular a status as her more beautiful older sister.

The cultural ideals of beauty expressed in these traditional images are still evident today. Women still have to be pretty and exude feminine sex appeal in order to be appreciated as athletes. Athleticism and competition are still approved of as male attributes, and women who are successful in sportsmanship are often referred to as being more masculine.

In Blue Crush, the lead role of Annemarie has much more coverage as a sex object than the main characters had in either National Velvet or League of Their Own. This is a sign of the times, as sexual images are less of a taboo contemporarily. Annemarie is not barred from surfing because she is a woman. Rather, she has to conquer her own demons and fears, and then the path is clear for her to success and to the first female cover of Surf magazine. But Annemarie's victory is not really one for all female surfers. Her image is placed on the cover of a magazine because she is a cute surfer, not because she is the best surfer. There were many women who came before her who were much more deserving of that honor.

Thus, one of the last barriers for women in sport can be a question of femininity, and what the definition of femininity is. Sports should be appreciated as a vital aspect of being female. Women should be evaluated on the same athletic qualities that men are. Competition is just as healthy an outlet for women as it is for men. These are more contemporary reflections on the definition of women, and though it is easier for women to succeed, they are still struggling to cross all barriers.

Love and Basketball is hopefully more true to life a story than the others. Her mother does not like the athletic lifestyle that Monica leads, doting on her elder, more 'feminine,' daughter instead. And Q does not notice Monica as a person in whom he should be interested romantically until she cleans herself up and wears a dress to a school dance. His life as a basketball player is much easier than Monica's, as a male star, but it is Monica who ends up playing for the professional women's team at the conclusion of the movie. She succeeds in her sport, despite being a tomboy, she wins her mother's approval, and she wins happiness. If only this fairytale image could exist for every female athlete struggling for recognition based on her skill alone.

Women Athletes in 2010
Name: Melissa Ti
Date: 2003-03-19 10:52:53
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Women, Sport and Film
Spring, 2003

Women Athletes in 2010

Thirty-seven years have passed since the original Title IX passed in 1973, and seven more since it was reinstated in 2003. The law Title IX made it illegal to discriminate against anyone's race or gender in athletics. All athletes were to be paid equally and be accepted equally in college sports. In it's lifetime, Title IX has been responsible for the success of an innumerable sum of young women wishing to make their way in the world of athletic achievement. Title IX, however, did not only affect women in sports, but women everywhere, of all races. Women suddenly became equal in a way that their protests of inequality were viable and legal. They began to become more successful in other realms, like business administration and industry. The achievements women made after Title XI was passed were incredible. However, when the law came up for debate thirty years after its inception, not everyone agreed that the law should be reinstated. Yet, women held out and won their equality again! At the time, only 5% of the media was focused on women's sports and when women did appear in magazines, they were either half naked or displayed in a womanly role at home. Meanwhile, their male counterparts were usually shown on their sport fields or in action.
It was around this time in September 2003, that a group of women staged a massive protest outside the Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta, Georgia. The club was specifically an all male club, who had refused repeatedly to allow women to play golf on the course. This protest became the first in a series of attacks on the media and all-male sporting clubs around the nation that eventually brought together the group of women known as AMAMSA (American Women Against Male Sports Association).
In 2004, when Hillary Clinton was elected into office, she made her support of AMAMSA clear and when her term began in 2005 she made the plight of women in sports one of her primary concerns. After months of appealing to congress, President Clinton had all-male sports clubs banned and extended Title IX to the media, forcing them to devote an equal amount of time to women and men in sports. President Clinton faced much criticism of her brave efforts, but eventually won over the nation with her charisma and charm. She frequently spent her vacations in Augusta, Georgia playing golf with both her male and female friends.
After their successes, AMAMSA decided to begin their own media outlet. They created a new sports channel and magazine called PLAY. The first couple of years (2005-2006) were rough, but soon PLAY caught on and became rivals with ESPN.
The rise in the stock market that occurred directly after President Bush left office was extremely beneficial to the new company. PLAY had a lot of appeal because of its format based on equality. It featured an equal number of male and female announcers and showed an equal amount of male and female sports. Unfortunately, ESPN could not keep up with the massive changes that occurred in American society after the updated Title IX and lost in the stock market. Eventually they went bankrupt. Fortunately, PLAY had become so successful by that time they were able to buy an additional channel and hire many of the employees who lost their jobs in the ESPN tragedy.
Women in sports have achieved so much since the inception of Title IX, especially since its reinstatement in 2003. The fever has spread to all area of culture in which we are now seeing less beauty magazines and a decrease in cosmetic purchases by women. We are seeing that 50% of the CEO's in American businesses are women and more women joining the work force in general. This piece has been a brief look at the affect of Title IX on women and sports in the year 2010.

Images of Women in Sports
Name: Emily Hans
Date: 2003-03-19 10:54:01
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Emily Hanson

March 16, 2003

Women in Sports and Film

Images of Women in Sports

Since the beginning of the 20th century, society has undergone a massive change in outlook regarding the concept of women in sports. At the beginning of the century, Victorian ideals still ruled and many believed that a woman playing sports was both unseemly and dangerous because if could harm her ability to have children. However, with the Roaring Twenties and greater freedom for women, old ideas of feminine athleticism gave way to a new breed of women athletes. As time went on, more women became involved in sports and when Women's Lib hit its peak in the 1970's, the passage of Title IX in Congress guaranteed the already growing number of female athletes equal access to scholarships and equipment. As society's attitude towards women in sports has evolved, so to have the images of female athletes presented by the media.

The first film we viewed, Dare to Compete, gave a chronological description of the rise of women's sports including some of the first female star athletes. In discussing the history of women in sports, Dare to Compete illustrated the shifting image of women in sports. One of the greatest female athletes of all time, Babe Diedrickson, when she began her career in the thirties, presented a more masculine image than many people of age were comfortable with. As she became more successful and more famous she toned down her image, by growing her hair and wearing skirts. Diedrickson also changed her choice of sport. Rather than participating in more traditionally masculine sports as she had, the Babe began to focus on golf, a more acceptable sport for women. Even as women have become more accepted in the sports world, many still find it necessary to "prove" their femininity, and often find the media questioning their sexuality as Martina Navertalova did.

Dare to Compete gave us a historical perspective on the many obstacles female athletes had to overcome, our next film, National Velvet, took a looked at the story of one young women who was determined to enter her horse in the Grand National, even if it meant riding herself. The story of Velvet Brown, despite being made in the 40's and taking place in the 20's, gives a very sympathetic portrait of women athletes. National Velvet succeeds in making women athletes heroes by comparing and contrasting the female characters in the movie, most importantly, Mrs. Brown. Portrayed as sensible and sympathetic, Mrs. Brown provides Velvet with the inspiration to see her dream through. We also learn in the movie that Mrs. Brown was an athlete herself and managed to swim the English Channel, a feat few believed women had the capacity to complete. In comparison, Velvet's sister, Edwina, a typical "girly girl" is seen as flighty and insipid.

However, what makes National Velvet a truly sympathetic portrait of women in sports is the general reception Velvet receives after her victory at the Grand National. It might be expected that, in that day in age, Velvet would have received a good deal of censure for her rather presumptuous entrance into the race. Rather than meeting with disapproval and disgust, Velvet is seen as a hero and offered movie roles and much more. The celebrity Velvet gains because of her achievement shows a level of comfort with women athletes as well as admiration.

Love and Basketball provided a more personal look at the kinds of decisions female athletes are forced to make. The main plot of the movie revolves around relationship between Monica and her boyfriend Quincy. Both Monica and Quincy have exceptional basketball skills and both dream of playing. However, after Quincy witnesses the breakdown of his parents' marriage, he becomes more emotionally needy, and Monica is put in a position of deciding between her relationship and her career. While the audience feels upset that Monica is forced to make the decision, we also feel a measure of satisfaction that she decides to continue her career. However, after several years playing professional basketball in Spain, Monica decides to give up her beloved sport because she feels homesick and realizes that she doesn't find the same joy that she once did. Upon returning home, she and Quincy, after a brief interlude, begin their relationship again and this time, Monica manages to find a balance between Love and Basketball.

Possibly a truer portrait of women athletes than many other movies, Love and Basketball show the inner struggle that any women faces in the modern world. While women have many more opportunities today than 20 even 10 years ago, these opportunities have come with a heavy emotional cost. Today women are being forced to choose between their desire to pursue a career or to have a family. Many women, like Monica, who devoted themselves to their career often feel as though they've missed something. Love and Basketball reveals this struggle by contrasting Monica with her homemaker mother. Monica can't understand why her mother gave up her own dreams of a catering business in order to raise a family, and Monica's mother can't understand her daughters "tomboy" ways. The movie gives us two alternative images of women; by making Monica the hero it portrays her choices as the more desirable.

Our final movie, A League of Our Own, portrays the historically real Women's Baseball League that formed during the Second World War. Focusing on two sisters, Kit and Dottie, the movie discusses the lives of the players and the obstacles they overcame in order to play in the league. As Rosie O'Donnell character says, "They always made me feel like I was odd because I could play..." The movie gives us a historical perspective on how the players were treated and how their images were very carefully molded. From the beauty treatments to classes in posture and dinning, the women expected to be ladies first and foremost. The film reels were carefully made to focus not only on their athletic ability, but also on their femininity. As a historical fiction, the portrayal of the women in the Rockford Peaches, and the images that the media put forward, were very accurate. Women's baseball, at that day in age was a diversion and not seen as a serious sport. As a result, the images put forward of the athletes were generally light hearted, exposes focusing as much on the novelty of women playing baseball as the athletes themselves.

Female athletics have come along way since the beginning of the century. Today, women athletes are taken seriously as competitors, and many of their sports are followed just as voraciously as their male counterparts. The WMBA, created under a decade ago, has a large following of its own. Indeed, the U.S. women's soccer team has received more coverage than the men's team. But, women's athletics still has a long way to go. Despite the increasing popularity of sports among women, there is still less media coverage of women's sports. Often, as with the Women's Baseball League, the coverage focuses on the novelty of women playing that sport rather than their relative athletic prowess. But times are changing. As society becomes increasingly more comfortable with women athletes, the more coverage their sports will receive.

Media and the representation of female athletes
Name: Mahnoor Ah
Date: 2003-03-19 15:01:06
Link to this Comment: 5091

Q: Through the readings, films, and discussions, we have looked at the image of women in sport. Discuss the images of women in sport and how they are affected by today's cultural ideal of women.

Cultural ideals are dictated by media and its biases. By strongly suggesting what people should be eating, wearing, talking about and being interested in, media mandates domains of everyday life as specifically male or female. In all the movies we have watched, the representation of femininity and masculinity has been an important part of being an athlete. However, in many cases, the extreme importance placed on the gendered delineation of an athlete is reserved only for females.
National Velvet was the oldest movie in the collection we analyzed. The story of a young girl who wants to become a competing horse rider is compelling for following the dream of a young, female athlete. However, there are subtle nuances in the movie that poke fun at that dream. Velvet's passion for horses comes across as childish and unpractical at many points in the movie. Her monologues about the "wonders of horses" though relevant to exhibiting her obsession, inevitably make her appear unfit for her dreams because of her haste and excessive emotions.
The movie predicts that even though Velvet is comfortable in her shoes right now, adulthood will present her with challenges of being a woman and she will have to change to accommodate them. Even though it is strikingly pleasant that Velvet's mother is encouraging of Velvet's dream to ride in the international competition, limiting her life to the accomplishment of just that one dream is a subtle way of dictating the behavior of female athletes. Even though women can be allowed to have one big accomplishment in their life as a source of pride, Velvet's mother concludes that fulfilling the other aspects of womanhood will be the prime objective of velvet's adulthood. Thus the movie concludes that youth can be wasted for a childish obsession, but adulthood is reserved for a woman's duties to her family and society.
A similar sentiment is expressed in many news journals, publications and even television programming today. Sports are seen as a side commitment that female athletes pursue in their free time. Even if athletes are obviously full-time, accomplished competitors, because they are female, they are always depicted in magazines as homely, heterosexual, home economics-oriented beings. It is as if media is repulsed by portraying a female athlete as only an athlete. Certainly male athletes are never expected to be cooking or gardening in their free time. Their sexual orientation is never questioned because of their interest and participation in sports, and the media reaction to them multi-tasking parenthood or marriage alongside a career is a big plus. Women on the other hand have to fight for a picture of them sweating on the field as opposed to twiddling the ball in high heels for portraits. Women's sexual preferences are constantly under attack, especially if they are rising athletes. They are also never commended for managing a full-time career and their personal relationships. It is expected that if a woman steps into sports, she has to work twice as hard to maintain her familial responsibilities.
A perfect example of this is depicted in A League of their Own. Each woman on the baseball team is pushed by some sort of financial difficulty even though most of them are talented and committed. One character manages her kid alongside her baseball traveling schedule, while another dumps a boyfriend who is critical and demeaning. The star player of the team is constantly fraught with fear for the life of her husband, and takes his return back from the war as a reason to quit the team. The dynamics of this movie present more than a glance into the workings of a socially prescribed system. It is interesting to note that war time economy allowed women to step out of the house and into the sports field. However, the limitations were still as stringent as before.
Playing in skirts to be objectified as attractive women, rendered emotional because of their attachment to the game, and living with the understanding that they are but waiting for their husbands and fathers to return from war, scars the true essence of the game. Eventually, Geena Davis comes around to play in the final game, adding a melodramatic ending to this tale of obligation vs. interest. Though this is an affirmation that the gendered division of men and women in all fields of life taints the individual paths we pursue, it is interesting to note that the desire to play will carry a talented athlete through their life.
There is also always the challenge that a female athlete poses to her male counterpart, especially if they are in a relationship. In Love and Basketball, both the leading characters are aspiring basketball players. The male athlete enjoys attention all throughout his high school years and into college. The female athlete has to work hard to get her talent noticed. However, once things start looking up for the female athlete, the male athlete encounters personal problems and expects the female to give up her career and her passion (or at least put it on hold indefinitely), till his personal problems are resolved. He gets annoyed and upset when his girlfriend doesn't leave her life to dedicate all her time to him.
This representation is fairly realistic with its inclusion of the dynamics in a relationship where athletes are competing for similar things in the same sport. It is also a positive representation of female athleticism, showing the hard work, talent and time that go into achieving goals with or without the support of your family. This movie is fairly recent so it encompasses fairly familiar ideals of female participation in sports. It approves of dedication, consistence and hard work for female athletes. It also places relationships in a more normal light for both males and females, insisting that it is important to both sexes that their relationships work out.
Yet again, after evaluating the above mentioned movies and a movie like Blue crush, it is hard to decide how far female sports have come. It is definitely more acceptable in today's society for a woman to participate in sports and to be recognized for that talent. Children's programming and media overall is responsive to young girls receiving opportunities that are similar to boys their age. However, somewhere down the line, adulthood challenges this perception of equality and women are left with questions about their sexuality, limited coverage for professional sports, magazines that want to portray them at their homely best and a career that involves a lot of hard work on and off the courts.

Screenwriter for a Day
Name: Amy Stern
Date: 2003-03-19 15:30:00
Link to this Comment: 5093

Screenwriter for a Day

Screenwriter for a Day

Amy Stern
Women, Sport, and Film - 2003
Student Papers

For the past century, women and sports have been kept separate in the media as a whole. When they are combined, the portrayal of athletic women is appalling; it is seemingly impossible to be both "feminine" and accomplished at sports in movies today. Were I to write a screenplay dealing with women and sports, I would feel the need to make several changes to the formula as it now stands.

To make a movie about women's sports, the projected audience must first be examined closely. The typical film about women in sports today seems to be aimed less at teenage girls looking for role models, and more at teenage boys looking for eye candy. Perhaps the first, and most important, change in creating movies about women and athleticism would be to reevaluate this question of audience. To write a film that is truly about women's sports and current society, the screenwriter must make an active effort to divorce this objectifying look -- the "male gaze" famously described by Laura Mulvey -- from the movie itself. Through this, the audience would receive a much more realistic view of a character, who would look more like the average athlete than a movie star.

Another important objective would be finding actresses who fit the roles of the protagonists. It would be imperative to find someone who looks like an athlete rather than a model, which is to say, one who is muscular and toned rather than waif-like and weak. This is not to say that the actresses playing the protagonists would have to be unattractive; no, it would in fact enhance the movie to have women who are both beautiful and powerful. But their beauty would not be the only reason for hiring them.

Along these lines, aforementioned beautiful actresses would not all be "traditionally" beautiful, in the manner of Kate Bosworth in Blue Crush, but rather a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Most women in the media seem to be the "ideal" rather than the typical. A movie about women's sports which is meant to encourage women instead of objectifying them would need to make an effort to present people whose physicality its audience could actually reach. Movies wherein the heroine represents the intellectual or emotional goal, but whose physique is absolutely unattainable, discourage the viewer from striving towards the ideals the heroine embodies.

Similarly, the heroines should have a wide variety of personality traits. As shown in A League of Their Own, women united by a common goal (in that case love of baseball) can at the same time have individual quirks which made them not just a member of a group, but also a specific person. This encourages women to strike out on their own, even as they work towards a single target. This also provides the audience with a wide range of characters to whom they might relate.

Another important step towards advancing women would be a wide range of sexualities within the text. In most movies we saw, female characters were given token male love interests. In some, such as Blue Crush, the male characters seemed to be there purely to distract the viewer from the relationship between women. Lacking a character's definite proof of heterosexuality through the boys, the reader might misinterpret the homosocial relationships as homosexual behavior. While being athletic by no means implies that the character is homosexual, it also doesn't necessarily mean that she's straight, and it would be important to have at least one character who is in some way queer.

Logic dictates that a team sport would be more beneficial to the themes of female empowerment, independence, and interdependence than a sport about an individual character. Blue Crush and National Velvet dealt for the most part with single girls, who had supportive friends and family but no true equals. This would not fit the ideals of many girls working towards a common goal, nor would it allow for any true competition. A sport like volleyball or soccer would perhaps be the best examples to use; these require both teamwork and athletic prowess.

The protagonists, then, would be the team members, women who are forced to defy gender stereotypes while doing what they love most. As stated above, they could be intelligent, beautiful, funny, friendly, strong-willed, empowered, and sweet -- but they don't NEED to be any of these things. None of the heroines of the film would be perfect; perfection would work against the very ideals the storyline and theme would be emphasizing. Instead, they would seem very human, which perhaps is the most important quality missing from contemporary films about women in athletics. We see heroes and villains, characters who deserve to win and characters who function as obstacles. None of these are true examples for the members of the audience, who occupy the real world. By making the protagonists people who might as well be real, we could make sure that young girls would benefit from the portrayals.

Cultural Ideals of Women in Sport
Name: Munira Lok
Date: 2003-03-19 15:48:23
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Munira Lokhandwala
Women, Sport and Film
Final Paper

Question: 1. Through the readings, films, and discussions, we have looked at the image of women in sport. Discuss the images of women in sport and how they are affected by today's cultural ideal of women.

During our exploration of the roles and images of women in sport throughout this course we have seen female athletes in some very interesting depictions. Although all the films we watched this semester included images of women or girls in the role of athletes, it was not surpirising to find the films straying from the topic of sports from time to time. Often it seemed as though in order for there to be a film about women in sports, the film could not help but stray from sport slightly. However I could not always distinguish whether the film makers were doing this in order to entertain their audiences, or perhaps to prove a different point altogether. Several of these films did an amazing job at portraying female athletes as nothing more or nothing less then what they were, athletes. While I found that others attempted to fill in gaps that they thought might be important in answering questions about these athletes as being something more than just athletes, but female athletes. It became clear to me throughout the course that each of these films was in some way shaped by the culture that it came to exist in, therefore our present interpretations of them sometimes miss the true essense of these films.
I found it difficult to talk about National Velvet as a film about women in sports, because it was difficult for me to think about Velvet as a woman. It is obvious that a gender issue did take place in the movie because females were not allowed to compete in this race, however I do not believe that in the movie this issue of gender really erred Velvet. I believe that she was really too young to understand it and all she really understood was that she could not compete in the race. Because the issue of gender did not effect Velvet it did not effect me because then it did not seem to me a movie about gender inequality, but rather a film about a girl who really loves riding horses.
Love and Basketball was definetly the most interesting of all the sports that we watched throughout the quarter because it offered its viewer a parellel look at women and men in the same sport and the different difficulties that each has to face. Both the male and female characters in this film were equally talented in their own respect, yet because of societies different ideals of each, along with the differing paths set up for each, they both ended up in very different places. Often there were instances when aggression from the female character was instantly reprimanded, while the same actions from the male character were applauded because aggression was not outside the behavior of a man, but apparently outside the behavior of women. It seemed like Monica had to, along with maintain a high level of play, also had to maintain a certain composure on court that society seemed to demand of her. Most importantly there were different paths set up for both these athletes because of their genders. Q had the oppurtunity to enter the draft when he thought he was ready, however their was no draft for Monica to enter. If Monica wanted to continue playing she would have to stay in college and play college basketball then maybe play abroad. Unlike Q, she had no route to instant success. Her path was very different from his and some might say better considering what happened to Q;s character by the end of the film. However I think that regardless of having seen what happened to her male counterpart with his oppurtunities and all, she still would have preferred having to make the choice herself as opposed to having it made for her.
I also think the way the way in which Monica was portrayed in this film is most accurate and flattering of all the movies we've watched. First and foremost she was portrayed as an athlete who worked hard and was goal oriented. In the beginning of the movie it seemed that she was even more passionate then her male counterpart. Although she was portrayed as having a relationship in this film, she was not portrayed as being consumed by that relationship as the female character in Blue Crush was. It seemed to me that a movie like Blue Crush is as odds with Love and Basketball, because Love and Basketballs seems to address the exact problems with women portrayed in sport that Blue Crush seems to cause. Love and Basketball addresses the problems of how female athletes seem to have to advertise their femininity before their athleticism as evident by the ways Monica had to control her emotion on the court. In Blue Crush it seemed that what was being advertised was this idea that beautiful women can be athletes too which I thought took away from their athleticism. In Blue Crush the main character was more of a young girl looking for love then she was an athlete looking to succeed. I believe her character failed time and time again at fulfilling the role of an athlete that Love and Basketball was trying to set up. Perhaps a movie like Blue Crush is more entertaining, but I think it is the least bit accurate in portraying the difficulties that women face in competition. From this movie it would be difficult to understand the sexuality issues that accompany women in sport because the sexuality in Blue Crush is pretty cut and dry. Basically I thought that the way that Blue Crush portrayed the difficulties of women in sport was way too simple and lacking. However I think that in some ways it did promote women in sport simple by including women competing in the film. Perhaps in this case not so accurate publicity is, indeed, better then no publicity at all.
I believe that all these films are important to the advancement of women in sport is some form or another. They are important because the portray the role of women in a new light: as an athlete. This image is something that I think will take a long time to be fully accepted by all. Certain obstacles will always stand in its way, but I think that as long as women continue to participate in sport out of pure love and enjoyment, the movement of women in sport will continue to move forward and we will continue to pave more ground for younger generations.

Women vs. Their Society
Name: Jenna Rosa
Date: 2003-03-19 16:27:54
Link to this Comment: 5097

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Through the readings, films, and discussions, we have looked at the image of women in sport. Discuss the images of women in sport and how they are affected by today's cultural ideal of women.

Women in sports have definitely come a long way from the barriers and prejudices of previous times. Only recently have women been able to compete in a very public way, with established leagues, payrolls and plenty of endorsement opportunities. Title IX has allowed teams of girls for almost every sport as well as better opportunities for sports scholarships to college and many other privileges only given to boys for their talents in sports. Under all these legal provisions and establishments for the encouragement of women in sports, women should now really be able to do any kind of sport they want in as much freedom as is afforded to men in sports.
Although women have been given so many freedoms in this field, it is the social aspect, the audiences of sports, the people of our biased culture that is now hindering women who wish to be known as athletes and competitors. Our culture is filled with deeply imbedded ideas about power and strength and competition being masculine qualities, and for women to want to embody these things is confusing and goes against our unconscious stereotypes about the abilities and attributes of men versus women. The acceptance of women in sports becomes not a matter of ability of talent in their field, but rather is based on ways women can be what is considered by our culture to be feminine while they play their sport. If a woman can still be what the average person thinks of as a woman while also displaying talent, her "masculine" attributes can be more accepted by the audience and so the woman is more accepted.
There has long been a stigma of strong women as masculine, base, somehow not as good and pure a character as more demure, quiet, passive women. In sport, women cannot help but show their aggression and competitiveness just as men do in sport, but this is often what leads to a natural confusion by a society. Every society has certain mores and prejudices which are not necessarily harmful but are rather integral to the function of that society. After generations of establishments of gender roles and differences of behavior between the sexes, these ideas become deeply ingrained in the society and form the basic culture of that society. Most of the Western world has designated the roles of men to be the bread-winners of the society, the protectors, the strong and able ones who women depend on for stability and survival. Women are the care-takers and are gentle and motherly, taking care of the basic needs of others and rarely thinking of themselves. These gender roles have been integral to many societies throughout the world, and though many individuals may disagree or rebel against them, they are still part of the traditional culture.
Manifestations of how these prejudices can be unconscious but still very apparent are seen in the field of sports. Sports have been present in cultures from which ours derives for centuries; they seem to be a very naturally human outlet. More recently in our culture, teams have been established consisting of players who have reached celebrity status based on their abilities, their looks and their attitudes. Generations of sports fans follow these teams and develop a very strong loyalty to the players as well as the sport itself. When women began to publicly play sports and new women leagues were being formed and being shown on TV, it took a while for people, both men and women, to accept them and follow them with any degree of loyalty comparable to that of the pre-established men's sports. I know many people who don't feel the same excitement watching a women's game as a men's game because the women's leagues have not gained the level of acceptance in these recent years that men's sports have enjoyed for centuries.
One way women have tried to gain acceptance while still playing their sport is to balance femininity, sometimes to a comical level, with their culturally masculine traits. Sports magazines that have articles about woman athletes often first show them playing with their kids or in their kitchen, or even more degrading, wearing almost nothing so that if you saw them, you would think they were underwear models, not athletes. In the movie Blue Crush which we saw during this class, the main character had to have a somewhat superfluous relationship with a man in order to establish her heterosexuality and then wear revealing bikinis which mysteriously never budged despite all those vicious waves she was supposed to be so able to conquer. This movie showed how desperately many women try to be accepted as likable people who also happen to be athletes. The idea is if everyone can accept her first for her femininity, the confusing masculine trait of athleticism will be easier to swallow.
The concept of women in sports can also be an intimidating and threatening thing for many people, not only men. If gender roles are indeed so important to the foundations of a society, than can digressing from these roles harm the society? The problem with the situation is that culture and social mores rarely take into account freedoms of the individual and the choices individual make. There are many women who truly want to get married and stay at home with their children and devote themselves to the needs of theirs husbands and children. However, there may be just as many women who want to get jobs or live in unorthodox familial situations or play sports. It may take time for these desires to also be generally acceptable by our society, but what is needed is not change but flexibility. If more people can understand that people need to do what they think is right and set goals which they can work hard to accomplish, then people may be less likely to persecute each other about life paths dictated by the individual rather than by society.

Disturbing Images and Cultural Ideals
Name: Laurel Jac
Date: 2003-03-19 16:28:00
Link to this Comment: 5098

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Looking back on the last century, the role of women in culture has changed significantly. Women have gained the right to vote, they have gained a voice in the political arena, and they have become more independent in general. Women athletes are prime examples of independent women. It has been a long and difficult fight for women, but thanks to Title XI, and the changing cultural perceptions of women, female athletes have garnered respect and a fan base. This is not to say that there are still problems and obstacles that often stand in the way for women.

Although it is culturally acceptable for women to participate in sports, there are limitations for women, not only in sports but also in the corporate world and politics. A woman who wants to be the mayor of a city, who gives up time with her family to campaign is considered heartless by some, courageous by others. If that woman decides to not run for office again, people automatically assume that she feels she has been neglecting her family. Our culture would never question a father's decision to not run for mayor again. A woman who is promoted to the top authority position in a company is usually criticized in some way for being nasty or for "sleeping her way to the top". When men are promoted to similar status, no such accusations follow them.

In the same sense, a female athlete such as Brandy Chastain, who rips off her shirt at the end of an amazing game, culture sees her as unacceptable. She is supposed to be calm and collected. Culture wants women to play sports, but it expects them to contain themselves within unreasonable bounds, acting like proper ladies. Why is it that men do not have to live up to similar standards? Culture is not made up strictly of men. It is also made up of women. Perhaps if more women accepted the role of athlete, and challenged the present cultural perceptions of women athletes, the problems that female athletes face would be diminished.

Because of the cultural desire to see women live up to the cultural standard of femininity, the images presented of female athletes are almost always out of the context of the sport in which they participate. Very rarely are women photographed in an aggressive way, unless the idea of the photo is to prove that the woman is a lesbian or mean. It is ridiculous that a woman cannot be seen grimacing, dripping with sweat, or behaving aggressively without some negative consequence. Open any sports magazine, and if women are even included in the features, in most instances, the athlete will be pictured in some "feminine" role, such as cooking, curled up on the couch with a puppy, playing her children.

Many female athletes decide to pose nude or scantily clad because those types of pictures attract attention. For some women it is empowering; some women believe that when they pose this way they are attracting people to their sport. The fact is that these pictures do attract a great deal of attention, but it is the wrong kind of attention. Female athletes should realize that negative attention is not winning any battles. If their goal is to be seen as a professional, serious athlete, they are failing. For the most part, men do not choose to pose naked or in their underwear. For them it is demeaning.

So what is to be done? How can cultural expectations of female athletes change for the better? If we refuse to buy sports magazines that portray women in racy photographs, will the battle be won? I believe that until the female athletes make a stand and say that they refuse to be pictured in such ways, there will be little change. Not to be overly pessimistic, but a change such as this is unlikely to happen because the market for such images is so valued by some that they will pay huge sums of money. It is unfortunate that in this day and age, with the long history of trials it took to get to where we are, our culture still has not redefined "feminine". Why is it not feminine for a woman to fume over a bad call, or to roar in victory? As a young woman living in this time, I am amazed to see that although Title XI has opened many doors for women in many arenas, our culture on the whole is so narrow-minded. People make culture, and when people realize their ridiculous ideals and change their perceptions, culture does so as well. It may be a gradual change, but as long as it continues to change, there is hope for the future.

Web Paper
Name: Natalie Me
Date: 2003-03-19 16:42:10
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Women, Sport and Film
Wednesday, March 19

3. Assume you are a screen writer in the year 2010. You have been commissioned to write a movie script about women's sports and current society. What is the theme? Who are the protagonists? What are the issues and how does the movie end?

This past few weeks, as we have been discussing some very important issues concerning women, sports and the media, I have frequently considered – as I am sure the rest of the class has as well – a possible solution to the current state of women in sports and film/media. That image of the sports magazine, with one page depicting a male in an athletic pose, while on another page sexualizing and domesticating a female athlete- will remain in the minds of everyone who participated in the class. How can we combat the clear discrimination in portrayal of women, the clear disregard for our athleticism and ability, the marginalization of our role as athletes? Title 9 was clearly a giant step forward but what this class has taught us is that there are still miles to be traveled until women and men are on entirely equal footing.

Part of this, I believe, is due also to the representation of men in the media as the opposite of women. Consider the role of them male: dominant, athletic, powerful – exactly what a woman isn't supposed to be. Though men benefit from powerful imagery utilizing this social norm, they also stand subject to his harmful effects. By cornering identity into structured, regimented roles and patterns of behavior, we have created traps for our society's gender. In order to combat this we must challenge the concept of gender on both sides of the table. Instead of forcing women to try and exhibit male characteristics while insisting they maintain their femininity, why not ask men to move towards the middle as well? Men are not all muscle heads that grunt and play football all day long. They are not all dominantly willful and oppressive to women. Men and women have more in common than they realize. Until both genders become willing to stop bending their will to meet archaic norms of sexualized behavior, our society will not make any advancements in equalizing men and women's status in all facets.

If I were a filmmaker I would concentrate on challenging not only the stereotyped roles of women in sport and athleticism, but also the typical roles of men. I would portray women in roles they've never played before; I would do the same with men. I would try to utilize existing norms for film and TV- contradicting society's taboos for gender identification. My film would not concentrate on athleticism however. There are too many other arenas in which women and men are on unequal footing and by pointing out the absurdity of it ALL I believe you have more to gain.

I think my film would be more avante guarde. I can't think of a script or story line that would convey my message. Perhaps I would include a number of smaller vignettes with spliced in footage depicting gender roles in a montage with opposite images. An example of a scene might include a female character portraying a mobster. I would want to characterize her as the stereotypical mob head – ie: Tony Soprano, or Al Pacino in the Godfather. This would be a difficult role for a woman to pull off because women have never been placed in this role before. To make it successful I would have to carefully pick dialogue, music, other characters, and instruct the actors to behave not as though she were a man – but as though she held the power of previous mob characters.

Other scenes would include men in roles they've never played before on television or in film, and other roles for women in typically male roles as well. Again, this is a difficult thing to pull off, and it is exactly why men and women have 'typical' roles in the media. Society doesn't like to be challenged. If you were to produce a feature length film with a female mobster, it would be laughable. I pick that role only because I think that is a character a woman would be almost unqualified to play in our current society – people wouldn't accept a woman in that role.

This class asked us all to question the dominant stereotypes concerning male and female athleticism in film and the media. It also challenged us to consider how we could combat the current problems that exist on a daily basis – in our individual lives. It showed us how we all benefit from Title 9 and how far we have come, even though there is still a long way to go. I don't think I'll look through a sports illustrated again, or watch another film portraying athleticism (male or female) in quite the same way. I will always be asking myself what it says about the gender roles, and how that compares to the past, present and our expectations for the future.

Cultural Ideas of Women
Name: Christen G
Date: 2003-03-19 16:50:19
Link to this Comment: 5101

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Christen Gore
March 19, 2003
Gym Class
Women, Sport and Film

Cultural Ideas of Women

Throughout this course we have examined how female athletes are portrayed and perceived in films, the media, and in the minds of the general public. Overwhelmingly, we agreed that many times the perceptions people have about female athletes and the portrayals of female athletes from which people derive their perceptions are flawed and inaccurate. Female athletes and women in general are portrayed most often in roles traditionally held for women or as scantily clad sex symbols. While neither one of those portrayals are necessarily inaccurate they are still very dangerous because they are the only portrayals and visions of women to which the general public is ever exposed.

In today's society of equality and political correctness it is clear to see that women and especially women athletes have some barriers that have not yet been torn down and overcome. These barriers that remain can not necessarily be overcome with legislation or regulatory acts. The barriers that remain for women to overcome exist not on law books but rather in the minds of people in general. This task of reshaping the way America, and perhaps the way that the whole world thinks is one that is infinitely harder than getting equality laws to be passed. Women must find a way to change the way people think about women and athletes and what it means to be a female athlete. They must challenge the stereotypes placed upon them and must create a new version of the female athlete. The new female athlete does not have to exclude the current images of women but it must be broadened to include more facets than the current image of a female athlete does.

Female athletes are very often portrayed first as women and then as athletes. This means that very often a woman's athletic talent and ability takes a back seat to her sex appeal and physical beauty. On TV and in magazines women are portrayed with as little clothing as possible and most times out of the context of their sport. The danger of this practice lies in the fact that there is a fine line between heralding a beautiful athlete and making a mockery of an athletically talented woman, who just happens to be beautiful as well. Although an athlete may be beautiful it is important that athletes be recognized first for their talent and only then for their physical good looks. An athletes physical attributes should be an added bonus to her athletic ability instead of her athletic ability being an added bonus to her good looks. Currently in our society an athlete must be physically pleasing before they are accepted as an athlete.

This shift in the way people think can not be forced to occur through laws or decrees. Attitudes and perceptions are not changed simply because legislation such as Title IX is passed. Athletes must take the equality and freedom that Title IX awards to them and forcibly challenge the perceptions that many people hold. This will mean fighting for equal airtime for women's sports on television and radio. It will mean turning down lucrative opportunities that uphold the current misconceptions, and it will mean that athletes must decide that they are ready to face a new challenge.

Like the repercussions of Title IX, this change in image will take time to become the norm. The important thing to remember is that despite the time it may take to become effective the image o women in sport must be changed. Women must be given the same respect for their physical talent that men are given. To achieve this Women must demand the equality that they have been awarded by acts such as Title IX. It is important that our daughters and granddaughters know that they can be beautiful and be an athlete as well. It is also important for them to know that being a good athlete does not always mean they will be beautiful.

Is Title IX a social justice
Name: Anna W.
Date: 2003-03-19 16:56:52
Link to this Comment: 5103

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Women, Sports, and Film
Essay Question: Why is Title IX a social justice issue? What effect does it have on women's lives who are not athletes?

Taken directly from Title IX, it states "no person in the U.S. shall, on the basis of sex be excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal aid".

Remember back to a time in the United States prior to the Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972, when sex discrimination regarding Education was tolerated and legal. Our society at the time had very low percentages of girls participating in sports, women entering medical and law schools, in addition to numerous other academic areas where men dominated. Time and society have changed and so has the law. In 1972, the United States government enacted Title IX, an education amendment, which "bars sex discrimination in any educational program or activity that receives federal funding, including athletics. The law gave women access to classes, facilities, and opportunities that had historically been male only."(internet source, Since then, girls and women have had their lives improve by having more opportunities made available, thus making Title IX a social justice for it served to end injustice based on sex discrimination. Women athletes did stand to benefit the most from this law, but the lives of all women changed, both those athletes and non athletes.
Social Justice is defined as "on going awareness of injustice as it occurs (status, power, access), process of action-move from talk to action; inclusive of all people to talk about social justice on all different levels, process of commitment-individual commits to change and affects another- to affect the system, and most importantly, it is a process of transforming a system inclined to perpetual injustice" (internet source, Going by the criteria set in defining social justice, Title IX qualifies to be classified as a social justice. First, Title IX came about because citizens recognized the injustice associated with sex discrimination regarding federally funded educational programs and activities. Secondly, once the injustice was recognized, actions were taken to rectify the problem. Lastly, Title IX took the initiative that sought to 'transform a system' crippled by injustice, thus ending a system that prior to this law, perpetuated injustice.
It should be noted that student athletes did gained the most from Title IX. Although, it should also be mentioned that Title IX altered the lives of all girls and women for the better because of the additional opportunities that it brought to them. Prior to Title IX, many schools discriminated against girls and women, and restricted and limited the acceptance rate of this group into their institutions. Because of Title IX, there has been an increase in the participation of women in areas that before 1972 were mainly dominated by men.
In 994, women received 38% of medical degrees, compared with 9% in 1972, In 1994, women earned 43% of law degrees, compared with 7% in 1972. In 1994, 44% of all doctoral degrees to U.S. citizens went to women, up from 25% in 1977. (internet source,
The significance, effects, and social benefits of Title IX had been felt since its enactment and will continue to be felt way into the future.

Redefinitions: My Film about Women and Sport
Name: Alice Goff
Date: 2003-03-19 16:57:01
Link to this Comment: 5104

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A constant theme we have explored throughout our discussions and screenings of the films in this course has been the breaking out of molds and traditions, and the redefinition of the image of women through physical activity and ambition. Women's official and state-sanctioned entrance into the arena of professional sports since the inception of Title IX has been in and of itself a huge breaking of presupposed definitions and stereotypes of what constitutes acceptable womanhood. Unfortunately, as we see today in the continued stereotyping of women athletes and the disadvantages they face in the eyes of media coverage and funding, this redefinition has come up short. As a consequence of Title IX, women have become generally accepted as able to perform competitively as athletes, but their role as athletes has not yet been defined as quintessential elements of what it is to be a woman. We see this stereotype promulgated in some of the movies that we viewed in class. For example, in Blue Crush, the main character is portrayed as having to decide between her relationship with the football player and her career as a surfer. The two are ultimately incompatible and set up in a way that conveys the message: women are either athletes OR women, not both. Athleticism is not a defining characteristic of womanhood. The same occurs in Nation Velvet when Velvet is ultimately forced to "become a man" at the end of the film in order to compete in the race. We get the message from these films: athletics are something periphery to what it means to be a woman, not something which is defining of what it means to be a woman.
In my vision for a movie that deals with the issues, my central theme would be the breaking and redefining of traditional gender roles which, despite Title IX and the extensive cinematic dealings with these issues, have to a large extent remained unaltered. My movie would involve a team, but not one involved in competition with another team, but rather in a competition with themselves. I think rock climbing would ideally fit this notion, because it is a sport which involves team work, but also is at the core a matter of competition against oneself. This would be a metaphor for the necessity of women's sports to be seen not as in competition with men's sports, but in competition with themselves, and defined by themselves. Women define their role in athletics, ultimately, not men.
So, a group of rock climbers would be the main character group. They would be involved in a test of endurance in which they were proving to themselves their abilities as rock climbers, and their legitimacy as women athletes. Each member of the climbing team would physically portray a stereotype of women, each in a distinctive way. One character would be seen as 'girly', well-made up, delicate, etc. However, her actual gender identity would be contrary to what the viewer would most readily assumer. This character would be gay, in an effort to contradict the normal visual stereotypes of homosexuality in women, and in sports. Another character would look more "masculine", leading the viewer to assume that she is homosexual, but in fact be straight. Again, this serves the purpose of disrupting traditional gender stereotypes and prompting the viewer to re-define their notions of femininity and masculinity and its relationship to women in sport. Another character would be scared of heights. I think it's important to portray not all women in sport as being fearless conqueror, but also to exhibit the vulnerability involved in any athlete and make that into an acceptable vision of a woman athlete.
The plot would involve these women challenging themselves to climb Half Dome. They would get caught in a storm and have to make the decision of whether or not to continue the climb and take the risk of injury. The storm would be a metaphor for the intimidation that women face from external sources (ie. men, the media, etc.) that challenge their ability to perform to the best of their ability and challenge their viability as athletes. They would decide to risk the storm and continue the climb. The climb itself would be representative of the journey of women in sports since Title IX and end, with the women at the end on top of Half Dome looking over Yosemite Valley. The ending dialogue would be:
Climber 1: My camera survived, I guess that means we should take a picture.
Climber 2: No, let's not. No photograph is going to do justice to this moment.
The photograph is representative of my view of the decision facing women in sport today. They have the choice of following the media and seeking to best "represent" themselves to other people, or to simply continue to be athletes for the sake of being athletes—because it is what they love to do, and is a rich, defining element of their lives. Media coverage is not the answer to women's sports. The answer is in the confidence of every athlete to challenge herself with the notion that she is a woman, and defining of her womanhood is her viability as an athlete.

Women in Sports Essay #1
Name: Johanna Se
Date: 2003-03-19 22:52:26
Link to this Comment: 5108

The media's portrayal of women in sports to me can be described by the saying taking two steps forward and one step backwards; this is to say that women are now allowed to be athletes, but that with this freedom comes the need for women to then also show themselves as domestic or sexual objects to reaffirm their femininity. It is saddening to think that women must prove their femininity by separating themselves from their athletic ability, and that we as a society cannot except athletic ability as something either that is feminine or as something that is separate and therefore not linked to our femininity. I found the movies we watched very interesting because of the differences in the way that women were shown when playing their sport. I felt that in "National Velvet", "Love and Basketball", and "A League of Their Own" showed women as athletes and women as opposed to "Blue Crush" which showed women as sexual objects while their sport was less important to the woman herself.

"National Velvet" was a sweet film that, to my surprise, portrayed women as capable athletes. Velvet and her mother were two very strong examples of women who could compete with men athletically; however the movie also presented the message that there was a time and a place for sports and for family. Velvet manages to win the hardest race in the equestrian world and yet she is a little girl, this shows that athletic talent is not limited to men and perhaps is also a jab at the equestrian world for not allowing women to participate. I felt that Velvet was shown as feminine, if only because she was such a pretty little girl. Her mother as well was shown as a strong and independent woman who in her time had accomplished something that few men and no other women had ever done by swimming the English Channel. I felt that this movie allowed for the women in it to be women and athletes without taking away any femininity from them.
Another film I thought really showed women in sports in a positive light was "Love and Basketball", instead of showing a bunch of women cooperating and having great team spirit it showed the true world of any pre-professional and professional athletics, that where there is fierce competition and drive to be the best. I liked that there was that aspect of life within the movie even if there was a happy resolution by the end. This movie really helped show the importance of title IX for women who play sports; without such a bill women would not be able to play sports. The movie did a good job of showing how far women have come in accepting their own athletic ability and how far the public must go in order to accept women as equals in the sports world. Another movie that I thought portrayed women in sports in a positive light, albeit a different light was "A League of Their Own". In this movie we can see the early development of women in the sports world. The film did a good job of showing the opposition and skepticism that these athletes were faced with; i.e. they had to wear skirts to play and had to have chaperons. The movie also showed the importance of playing as a team to win acceptance and that there was competition between teams; both of which were very true of their times and still hold true. I felt that both these movies did a good job of showing the less glamorous side of sport and also focused on the importance of sport to the athletes who played.
One film I did not like was "Blue Crush", I felt that it put very little importance on the athletic ability and meaning of the sport to the main character and instead was a love story that happened to involve a girl who surfed. Although the film was stunning visually there was very little substance or plot and even less involving surfing as an important part of the girl's life. It seems to me that this girl didn't care about her sport and that her perfect 10 was not something she had worked for but rather something that happened to her. I was very disappointed at the over-sexuality of all the surfing characters in their small bikinis and hyper-heterosexuality while they flirt with any boy who gives them the time of day. This movie shows me that it is still hard for the public to accept athletic ability as something feminine and something that women can possess without taking away both femininity and sexuality. This makes me very sad on one hand, but on the other I know that just the fact that there are women in sports is a step in the right direction.



Female athletes as female athltes
Name: Sunmin Lee
Date: 2003-03-20 01:25:14
Link to this Comment: 5109

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Women, Sports, and Film
Sunmin Lee

Female Athletes as Female Athletes

1. Through the readings, films, and discussions, we have looked at the image of women in sport. Discuss the images of women in sport and how they are affected by today's cultural ideal of women.

Traditionally, women have been viewed and have viewed themselves as sexual partners and mothers of men. If a woman loses her sexuality or sexual appeal, she is considered to be ¡°marginal¡± who is not really a woman. Marginal women are, for example, children, older women, pregnant women, aggressive women, and homosexual women. These women are categorized as ¡°sexless¡± kind. This kind of stereotype is often seen in any male dominant society where men are the patrons of any cultural activity, and sports are not exception.

Like other fields, men dominated sports. It was not until recent that women began to play sports professionally. However, even though these women are professional athletes, they cannot be just athletes. They have to be ¡°women¡± who satisfy the men¡¯s stereotypes; not aggressive, quiet, and sexually appealing. No matter how good they are, if she is not ¡°feminine¡± enough, she is a marginal woman. In fact, many female athletes had to choose between being a woman and being an athlete. In many cases, a woman who chose to be an athlete became categorized as a marginal woman. However, should they really be categorized as marginal women?

Should female athletes be what they "socially" expected to be? They are athletes who spend and must spend most of their time practicing. Apparently, they build muscles and look "less feminine" in most cases. However, they are asked to be "women" outside their professions. No matter how good they are in their own fields, the society tells them to wear skirts, put on makeup, and come back to stereotypical woman. Nobody asks a male athlete to be soft and quiet outside the field. In fact, people expect them to be active if not aggressive. They are men whether they are aggressive or quiet when they are not playing sports. Why is it that people cannot do the same thing for female athletes? They are professional athletes and the job requires them to be aggressive and give up some of their "feminine" characters.

I am not trying to say that female athletes should not be treated as women. All I am trying to say is that they are women who are professional athletes. They may not satisfy the stereotypical gender characteristics, but these stereotypes are outdated and ironic. Thus, one must discard this outdated stereotype and let female athletes be themselves whether aggressive or passive and let them just play their games.

The Sisters in Films: The Role of The Family in Sh
Name: Marta Sobu
Date: 2003-03-20 04:39:52
Link to this Comment: 5110

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1. Through the readings, films, and discussions, we have looked at the image of women in sport.

Discuss the images of women in sport and how they are affected by today's cultural ideal of women.

The relationships between sports women and their sisters are potrayed in all the following movies: "Blue Crush", "Love and Basketball", "National Velvet", and "League of their own." The sister character is visible in all the stories, which not only suggests that the directors of the film acknowledged the importance of the role of a sister figure, but that the presence of a close family member, such as sister, was crucial in the development of the main character's sport career and personalities.

The emphasis of on the relationship between the female athleete and her sister, reveals a lot about the cultural ideal of women, who are sometimes accused of stepping out of their feminine roles in order to achieve their sport goals. The sister character in "Love and Basketball" and "National Velver" is in a certain sense the advocate of the social norms, imposed on the sports woman by the society. Because of their femininity and lack of interest in sports, they reveal what challenge is to be a female athleet in that same family, or in the society. In "Blue Crush" and "League on their own", the sister character is not alienated from sport practice, which proves to be both stimulating for the main character, and challenging, as she needs to make decisions about how much the personal, and thus the family life, will affect her career in sport.

The role of a sister in the four movies was thus various and it ranged from, or was a combination of, positive influences on the performance of the sport, through neutral, and finally, the character of the sister conflicted with the sport goals of the main character.

In "League of their own", Dottie, an excellent baseball player was constantly stimulated by her sister Kit to continue practices. The nature of Kit's encouragement was very unnusual, as she convinced Dottie that she should continue playing baseball, for this was Kit's only chance to also join the League and make an appearance on the baseball scene. At first Dottie did not treat playing baseball seriously, however she was always confident in her skills and made excellent performances in the games. Meanwhile, Kit was much more determined to become a better player, and suffered from being underappreciated because of Dottie's successes. At the certain point, the two sisters found themselves competing, first in the same team, and then on the opposite sides of the game, which for both was extremely stimulating, as they had to counterbalance the personal nature of their relationship, that is their sisterhood, with their professional goals of wanting to win. The outcome of such a dynamics was unexpected: Kit, whose goal alongside being an excellent player, was to be a better player than Dottie, manages to overcome her previous weakness to strike a high ball- a manouver she was previously not able to receive. This leads to a personal confrontation with her sister, which ends in reconciliation and acknowledgement of their professional abilities.

Similarily, in "Blue Crush", the main character Anne Marie and her sister Pennyare are both surfers. Anne Marie is older than Penny and she feels great responsibility to take care of her younger sister, in the difficult circumstances of the lack of their mother, constant struggle with being unemployed, and her personal trauma resulting from an accident in the surfing competition. The movie has a lot of aethetic qualities, such as dazzling shots of the ocean, exposing a lot of conventionally (by fashion journal standards) beautiful female athlete body in skimpy bathing suits, which overshadow the relationship between two sisters. Progressively, as Anne Marie's inner struggle to overcome her fears in the discipline becomes the focus of the athletic thread of the plot, the role of Penny is marginalized. It is however, important to acknowledge that Anne Marie gains a lot of support from her sister (and also from her friends), in managing matters, which may not be directly concerned with performing of the sport, but thanks to which she is able to surf. Namely, Penny helps Anne Marie in teaching the hotel guests how to surf, which helps them financially, and she is always motivating Anne Marie to take part in the competition, and when her sister succeeds, she is there to congratulate her. Although Anne Marie has to temporarily struggle with the consequences of Penny's rebellious age, it it rewarding to see that when the day of the competition approaches, the family issues are reconciled and girls' attention focused on the victory.

In "National Velvet" and "Love and Basketball", through the role of Velvet's sisters (the elder one in particular) and Monica's sister, we are able to inferr what the society's expectations of a womenly behavior are. The sisters in both cases are not interested in sports, and even though they never openly criticize Velvet's passion, they do not share it either. What Velvet receives from her sisters at most is acceptance of her affinity for horse riding. It seems like the only advice her elder sister could give her would concern relationships with boys, but Velvet is too young for looking for this kind of advice, and too focused on achieving her goal. The sister character cannot be in any way a role model for the young athleet, and thus Velvet needs to achieve her goal on her own, being in a certain sense alienated from the members of her family,closet to her with respect to age. Similarily, Monica, the main character in the "Love and Basketball", is in a close relationship to her sister, though both women have very little in common. Monica's sister resembles a lot the mother of both the girls, who pays a lot of attention to how she looks, and seems to emphasize the importance of a stereotypical feminine look. Monica's sister imposes a certain femininity challenege upon the female athleet, and possibly creates a conviction that Monica is the "uglier" of the sibilings. Monica's confidence is certainly restored, when her mother describes her as "beautiful" before the prom night, and from the way she reacts to the compliment it is visible, that she needed the confirmation that her athletic beauty was equal to the conventional female beauty, as viewed by her sister and her mother.

Although the role of the sister character in "Love and Basketball" and "National Velvet" appear secondary, the presence of a family member from the same age group is of importance to how the female athleets perceive themselves and how they achieve their goals. The four movies are a representation of the way in which mass media potray the images of female sportswomen, thus they are created by the narrow group of producers and transmited to the general public. On the basis of this it is possible to say that they are not adequate, as they present a biased view of women in sports. What then makes the female athleets more genuine is including in their lives a sister character, which allows us to notice a lot of implications of the important role of a family relationship and how they shape the goals of women in sport.

Scripting a Woman's Sport Film
Name: Rachel Hoc
Date: 2003-03-20 13:54:40
Link to this Comment: 5115

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It just takes a glance through the pages of a newspaper or sports magazine, or a perusal of the sports coverage on the local news, to see that women's sports get drastically less coverage than men's sports. It's also easy to see that the women's sports covered most frequently and most completely are "feminine" sports, those our society considers more appropriate for women to participate in, such as tennis, figure skating and gymnastics. The more "masculine" sports (everything else) get less coverage, and considerably less than male teams in those same sports. This is an aspect of media coverage in our society that seems not to have improved over time, and will likely not improve by much in the near future. While women's equality has progressed in most other areas of life and society, sports in the media seem to stagnate. Similarly, equal treatment of homosexuals has also progressed in society, but in the realm of sports is again in a rut. Women participating in "masculine" sports like basketball, hockey and wrestling are often assumed to be or accused of being lesbians, simply because they're strong, tough. Both of these aspects of women in sports seem unlikely to improve in the near future, though hopefully even a little bit of progress will be made. So, today's cultural setting can serve as a backdrop for the writing of a screenplay in the year 2010.

The protagonists in the script I would write, as a screenwriter in 2010, are two women who grew up together in some rural area, most likely somewhere north, cold. As children, they learned to ice skate together. One of these women, as an adult, turned that skill and love for the ice into a career in professional figure skating. It will be revealed during the course of the script that this woman is actually a lesbian, but completely closeted; not even her childhood friend knows. It is also revealed during the script that this figure skater is in love with the childhood friend, and has been for several years. The childhood friend, also driven by a love for the ice, becomes an ice hockey player. She's tough, well-built, a large woman, and because of her stature and her sport, she is often rumored to be homosexual. She is actually straight, but has had bad luck in love, finding that many men find her too "tough," or assume that she is gay and don't pursue.

The plot of the script is fairly straightforward, though there are some twists and turns; The hockey player's team is making their way quickly up the ladder in their sport, nearing the championships, and as of yet undefeated. However, they get next-to-no media coverage. This angers the hockey player, and she comes up with a scheme to challenge the unjust bias of the media and to draw their attention to her rising team. Her idea, which she presents to the figure skater, is to pretend that she actually is gay, and be seen publicly with another woman, playing on the already circulating rumors about her own sexuality. She asks the figure skater, as her lifelong best friend, to help her and pretend to be her lover. This is, of course, a chance too good to pass up, and the figure skater agrees. The plan works: though they're both awkward at first, they soon start to get into their roles, holding hands and hugging after hockey games and eventually kissing in public. Once the media gets a whiff of this "relationship," they pounce on it, and the team gets drastically more coverage than they ever did before, via the hockey player's scheme.

However, they hockey player is gradually beginning to have real feelings for the figure skater, though she doesn't admit to them. Her confusion over these feelings and the constant media circus, as well as problems that start to arise between herself and her teammates, all combine to cause her plan to backfire on her; the day before the big championship game, the hockey player makes a public statement explaining the entire scheme, and reassuring the public that she is, in fact, straight. The figure skater is there with her, to back up their explanation, but when the hockey player declares that they are both straight, the figure skater speaks up, coming out formally and making it known that she has been a lesbian all along.

The issues being dealt with here are fairly clear; the first issue is the unfair and unequal coverage of women's sports in the media, particularly unfair coverage of "masculine" sports played by women. The second issue is homosexuality in women's sports; the misconceptions about women who play "masculine" sports, and the lack of acceptance and understanding that lesbians often face in the world of sports. In the end of the script, at the big championship game, the hockey player is so distracted by her personal problems and pressured by the media at the game that she misses a vital goal, and her team loses the game. Surprisingly, however, the media jumps all over the winning team, giving them the coverage they probably deserve for their athletic skill, ignoring the hockey player and tired of her scandals. The figure skater is there watching the game, and afterward, as she tries to comfort the hockey player, they both finally give in to what has been building throughout the script and get together.

The issue of media is resolved in a hopeful fashion; instead of focusing on the hockey player who drew their attention with her scheme in the first place, they focus on the winning team, the better athletes, and on the quality of their sportsmanship. The issue of homosexuality is dealt with a little differently, and the outcome has it's up side and it's down side. The hockey player, by getting together with the figure skater in the end, is perpetuating a stereotype about women who play "masculine" sports. However, happy homosexual endings in film are rare, and to deny two lesbians the same happy ending that a straight man and woman might have in a similar sort of film is also perpetuating unequal treatment. Perhaps perpetuating stereotypes about straight women and lesbians in sports is in fact the best way to demonstrate that these stereotypes exist at all, in the same way that the portrayal of the media helps perpetuate the unequal coverage of women's sports, and the disinterest in the actual skill of female athletes as opposed the their love lives and scandals.

Gender Discrimination In Sports
Name: Lane Thoma
Date: 2003-03-26 12:37:32
Link to this Comment: 5183

Throughout this paper I will explore the issues of women, athletics, stereotyping, and opportunities that are available to females in the arena of athletics. Indeed, racism and sexism continue to permeate American society and in its institutions. There have been a number of laws passed to alleviate these entrenched values, Affirmative Action being the most notable. Nevertheless, females in America continue to be viewed as the "weaker sex", and inevitably this mentality continues to impact women in American society. It is my intention to address these variables both individually as well as in intertwining units.
In 1972 Title IX was passed by the Supreme Court. The intent of the framers was to pass a bill that would act as an anti-discrimination statute in response to employment and admission departments' discrimination against women at colleges and universities. Women were not receiving the same opportunities as men at the time and Title IX was passed to remedy that problem. In order to mandate more opportunities for women in varsity athletics the Department of Health, Education and Welfare wrote the Athletics Regulation in 1975. This regulation was intended to ensure that women were not denied opportunities that presented themselves on the playing field.
In 1979 the federal government wrote a three sectioned test to further ensure compliance with the Athletics Regulations. A school can pass the test in any of three ways. The first way is to show that the number of female varsity participants is proportionately equal to the females in the student body. The second way is to show that the school has a history of accommodating women in athletics and is continuing to make strides in the right direction. The third possibility is to show that your school has met the expectations and desires of the student body. Many schools have found that the proportionality test is the easiest to pass and therefor are moving to comply with it. Though the rules do not specify what constitutes substantial proportionality, some out of court settlements suggest coming within five percentage points would be sufficient. U.S.A. Today found that 28 of 303 Division 1-A schools, or 9%, passed this proportionality test. The Equity in Athletics Act of 1997 has made it federal law for all colleges and universities to report data on men's and women's athletics. This provision makes the policing of many colleges and universities easier to facilitate.
Title IX, while framed to combat both scholastic and athletic discrimination, has had the most notable impact on the field of play. Many court cases have arisen concerning female athletic participation at colleges across the country. Much of the media attention that Title IX has garnered in the recent past has been centered on athletics. Little attention has been paid to the less controversial, and thereby widely accepted, impact Title IX has had in the classroom. In the next two paragraphs I will discuss the pros and cons of Title IX enforcement on the field of play.
Proponents of Title IX simply desire to give women all of the opportunities that men have in a college atmosphere. Supporters state that competition helps women and girls to nurture a sense of self-esteem and accomplishment. The benefits of competition are evident in the "freedom, strength, and joy of a generation of women," (The Nation). Giving women opportunities on the playing field also engenders camaraderie between girls and boys at a young age. "It's like they understand what you have achieved," said one University of Wisconsin Madison track runner (The Nation). This level of understanding between men and women was something that few women of older generations got the chance to experience. "For women my age it's a foreign thing to understand this competition," says Joan Hoyer-Weaver, "we weren't even raised to be competitive," (The Nation). This competition facilitates better understanding not only on the playing field but also in business, politics, and society at large. Women are starting (albeit slowly) to be viewed as equals and not as the "weaker sex." Verna Williams of the National Women's Law Center says it best: "Title IX's not just for sports anymore. It's a tool for making schools more hospitable for girls and women, ending sexual harassment, and winning real gender equity across the board in education" (US News and World Report).
Opponents of Title IX primarily focus their objections on one issue. That focus is the issue of proportionality. As I stated earlier many schools find the proportionality test to be the easiest with which to comply. The most common mode of compliance is not to add women's sports, it is instead to cut men's. The common culprit is seen to be football, a traditional male sport that is not only well-funded but also under fire because of team size. Football, because of the size of the teams (anywhere from 80-100 men) is usually the first sport to be cut. The opponents of Title IX argue that while proportionality may be served, it is not in the best interest of either the men or the women concerned. Many on both sides of the issue claim that proportionality doesn't necessarily reflect equal opportunities. Richard Epstein, a University of Chicago law professor argues, "Title IX would be read to require a rough proportion of men and women in engineering and science on the one hand, and art and literature on the other, even though, most certainly, far more men are engaged in the former activities and far more women are engaged in the latter," (US News and World Report). While he makes a good point, it is also evident in his statement that Epstein also falls prey to the very thing his opponents are trying to abolish, and that is stereotyping.
The University of Minnesota has long been a liberal and fair institution. Title IX is not meant to damage the opportunities of men, even if it's opponents feel it fair to make that claim. The intent of the bill should be enforced, and that is gender equity. If there are opportunities for men then there should be both equal quantities and qualities of opportunities for women. Equality cannot be separated by location. If women do not receive gender equity on the field of play they will continue to be denied it in society at large. Equality is an all or nothing right, and it certainly seems easiest to begin on the playing field.

Brady, Erik and Witoski, Tom, "Title IX Improves Women's Participation," U.S.A. Today, 3 March, 1997
Van Keuren, K. 1192. "Title IX 20 Years Later: Has Sport Actually Changed?" CSSS Digest Summer:9
Leo, John, "Gender Police: Pull Over!", U.S. News and World Report, 24 March, 1998 v124 n11 p11
Schuld, Kimberly and Cantu, Norma, "Does government require 'proportional representation' for women in college sports?" (Symposium, Panel Discussion), Insight on the News, 3 August, 1998 v14 n28 p24
Conniff, Ruth, "The Joy of Women's Sports," The Nation, 10 August, 1998 v267 n5 p26
Sigelman, Lee and Wahlbeck, Paul J., "Gender Proportionality in Intercollegiate Athletics: the Mathematics of Title IX Compliance," Social Science Quarterly, Sept 1999 v80 i3 p518

Sexual Chocolate: Stereotyping Black Male Athletes
Name: M.A.
Date: 2003-03-27 13:07:12
Link to this Comment: 5191

<mytitle> href="/local/scisoc/sports03/">Women, Sport,
and Film - 2003
On Serendip

When discussions arise about inequities in sport, one of the first points brought up is that women are at a severe disadvantage. Sport continues to be a field dominated by men though Title IX was passed more than thirty years prior. Occasionally race will work it's way into conversation and maybe it will be talked about that women of color are marginalized in sport and don't even reap the benefits of Title IX. But black men? They dominate sport. How could they be discriminated against? Just look at any NBA or NFL game and you will see that whites are in the minority. Yes there may have been discrimination in the past, but currently the position of black men is one of power and majority in dominant sports. So there may be some sports that are more white and some that are more black, but ultimately, the demographic of black men is more than fairly represented in athletics. They clearly excel at physically active, aggressive sports. You can't argue with that. In fact, black men and their 'natural' ability could be seen as a little threatening in a field where white men originally claimed superiority. In some cases, athletics has become an arena where it is perceived that whites have lost control. However, while some may see athletics as a field where blacks are able to supersede white supremacy, black men are kept out of leadership roles as well as stereotyped.

"Throughout the history of sports, black athletes have been involved in many of the most dramatic and memorable events in track and field, baseball, basketball, boxing and football (Ebony)." In looking at the aforementioned sports, it can be noted that they are some of the more physical sports that a person could think to name. Why is it that black athletes have succeeded in these specific sports? Partially, I might surmise that a lot of this has to do with access. These sports are some that can happen rather informally and are relatively available in most areas. Many neighborhoods have courts or fields where a pick up game in a sport involving just running and a ball isn't an impossibility across social classes. Where as golf, tennis, skiing, and swimming (to name a few) are sports that involve very specific facilities that are not available to everyone. Knowing that race and class are closely related, it isn't hard to deduce which sports would be more likely to have athletes of certain races. It requires money and transportation and a certain amount of suburban white privilege to make it to a golf course, quality tennis courts, or an Olympic sized pool, and even more, these sports are some that need expensive equipment even to be played casually (Sage, p. 47). Golf clubs, quality swimsuits, tennis rackets—these are not things that are economical or can be acquired easily, and therefore the field of participants is much more narrowed to those with access and privilege.

For example, on March tenth, lifetime aired a rerun of Designing Women Episode #523 titled "Fore!" that originally was shown in 1992. Someone is asked to play golf and she refuses because the country club only admits white people. Anthony (a black male cast member) walks in on a conversation about sport and he interjects that blacks don't play golf because they wouldn't be caught dead in the clothes. He also says that there are no black swimmers because you can't swim yourself out of the ghetto, if you could make five million swimming you wouldn't see Air Jordan, it'd be River Jordan. Even though this episode was originated in 1992, it was still aired in 2003. People who watch lifetime television are shaped by what they see. This firstly implies that blacks athletes come from ghettos and then makes the point that they would be basketball players rather than swimmers. There is some truth to the statement that basketball is prominent in the inner city as well as the fact that blacks are predominant in the inner city (Harrison, p. 11). However, the fact that this show is on a network geared towards white women allows for essentialist racial generalizations to continue, reinforcing that golf and swimming are white sports. Also, it continues to perpetuate the myth that sport is the way to get out of poverty for African Americans (Harrison2, p. 104).

Simple, daily happenings such as this television show add up to create the ideals that we have around athletes today.
"According to an NBC special, the success of African American athletes is most evident in the National Basketball Association, where three out of four players are African American. In addition, African American athletes comprise 63% of the National Football League and 33% of professional baseball. Furthermore, African American athletes have held many professional boxing titles and have been overrepresented in most of the major national and international track and field events, particularly in short running distances and in long and triple jumps (Harrison1, p. 8)."

Because of overwhelming statistics like this, it is easy to attribute the success of black athletes to something genetic. The assumption that there is an innate reason that blacks are a disproportionate majority in these sports is common and derived from what we see in media. Qualities attributed to the sports that blacks succeed in inevitably become racial stereotypes. Football, basketball, and boxing are sports founded in aggression and machismo. Showboating is expected, as is hyper-masculinity and dominance through force. These sports are seen as raw and uninhibited and while they also require skill and practice, somehow there is the perception that it would take less practice for a black athlete to be a basketball star than an athlete of another race. The idea that blacks are naturally aggressive also works against them in the sense that suddenly more 'skilled' positions such as pitcher or quarterback end up being filled more often by white athletes. Blacks are stereotyped to have the agility and speed but to not be cut out for positions that require hard work and discipline (Sage, p. 90). Furthermore, "While African Americans enjoy ample playing opportunities in the NCAA and professional leagues, head coaching, front office, and senior administration opportunities lag far behind (Harrison2, p. 105)."

It is easy to assume black athletes are hyper-powerful and that they take naturally to sports that are based more around pure aggression. It is curious, then, that the WWE is disproportionately populated by white men since it is an institution run on testosterone, intimidation, and force as well as the fact that it is viewed in a very similar light as boxing, a sport where black men prevail. However, on the Worldwide Wrestling Federation's Royal Rumble 2000 video there is only one occurrence of a black athlete, during the Royal Rumble where wrestlers enter the ring at one minute intervals until one prevails. Sexual Chocolate, the lone black wrestler, is tossed over the ropes by Chyna, the only women wrestler, who is the last to enter. However, directly following that, she got tossed out as well. That one-minute event shows the underlying racial tensions in wrestling. What does it mean that a women defeated the only black male? (And what does it mean that his name is Sexual Chocolate)?

The few black men who do enter the world of professional wrestling are stereotyped in order for white men to maintain dominance. They are sexualized much in the same way as women. Sexual stereotypes, in my opinion, can work either to emphasize physical prowess and dominance, or to demean certain demographics and reinforce inferior status. In the case of the black male wrestler, since the only woman immediately eliminates him, his role does not seem to center around his strength and dominance but rather his character is sold by his sex appeal. Doing this allows for the focus to be taken away from his physical attributes, which could possibly be intimidating to the white wrestlers. In essence, I believe that with all the racial stereotypes in athletics about black men being innately stronger or better, white men in the WWE are threatened to lose their authority and eventually their entire enterprise to black men. Thus, a means of preventing this 'takeover' is to essentially exclude them from the industry (yet allow a few in so the WWE doesn't look racist), and to represent the athletes of color's characters in the most demeaning ways.

White men dominate the government, they dominate the workplace, and they struggle for dominance in athletic arenas. They may not dominate the most popular sports in numbers of athletes, but by consistently perpetuating stereotypes of black men they are able to create a divide between what it is to be a white or a black athlete. Black athletes become a recreational pastime much in the same way as minstrelsy entertained whites in years past. While access for black athletes has improved, they have been relegated to player positions with little opportunity for higher status and thus, are the most expendable and also hold no power. The fact is that even when stereotypes are being reexamined and deconstructed, data exists that is congruent with racist ideology of the past. Coaching and higher positions arguably require intelligence and discipline rather than simply natural skill and aggression. The disproportionate number of white coaches shows that black athletes are still viewed as the players or entertainment rather than a part of the entire industry of sport. Their roles are limited and represented in ways that delegitimize their ability and focus on stereotype rather than legitimizing African American athlete's identities. This allows for inequalities to continue to exist and perpetuate themselves in athletics and for the industry of sport to be controlled by whites.

Works Cited

Harrison1, L. "African Americans: Race as a Self-Schema Affecting Physical Activity
Choices." Quest. 1995: v47. No. 1.

Harrison2, L. "Understanding the Influence of Stereotypes: Implications for the African
American in Sport and Physical Activity." Quest. 2001: v53. No. 1.

Sage, G. (1998). Power and Ideology in American Sport. University of Northern
Colorado: Human Kinetics.

"10 Most Dramatic Moments: Achievements of African American Athletes." Ebony.
Aug. 1992: v47.

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